Published: 30th June 2021
Reflect upon stories from world literature via this virtual workshop hosted by an EFLU professor
It's called the World Literature Workshop and the last date to apply is July 7. So if you are interested in delving deep into this, better shoot an email to Dr Surendra Singh Negi ASAP...
Reading is a solitary activity, a passive exercise that involves just you and the book. But when practising it as a group exercise — reading, discussing and engaging — the experience can be so much more rewarding. And we have had enough solo activities to last us a lifetime, thanks to the pandemic, haven't we? Enter the World Literature Workshop. Now, if the word 'literature' is throwing you off, humour us for a few more minutes.
Why do we indulge in literature? Not just because we are taken in by stories, but because it is these stories that tell us about the socio-political, cultural and other aspects that went into shaping the world and worldview. So, why should you enrol in the virtual World Literature Workshop? Because you should want to gain a worldview to understand it better and, perhaps, yourself as well. This is what Dr Surendra Singh Negi is proposing. For the second time in two months. Because, you see, the first ongoing edition of the workshop attracted more than 100 applicants though only 24 were selected.
An int'l research project on the Southern Cone of Latin America came through, where the prof will be working on the manifestations of the trauma of second and third-gen whose grandparents went through a repressive regime. He will be leading scholars from five countries
The Assistant Professor in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies, EFLU (The English and Foreign Languages University), Hyderabad, finds that interest around his workshop is still bubbling. So without further ado, he announced the second leg of this interactive session which will begin on July 11 and will happen at 5 pm every Sunday for 12 weeks. But the most important date and time for you is July 7, 5 pm, because that's the deadline you've got to drop this 41-year-old professor an email, stating your interest in joining his workshop. One thing to note about the professor is the attention he pays to every individual application that ensures that there is a right balance of age, profession and location which will only go on to enrich the experience of the entire workshop even more.
If you are wondering 'What's in it for me?', Prof Negi has the answer ready for you. "By the time the workshop concludes, you would have read plays, poems, short stories and novels from Latin American literature and via them, gained insights into Latin America itself." But wait, isn't it the 'World' Literature Workshop? Then, why focus only on Latin American literature? "What is English Literature, really? It is literature written by the English or written in English and also includes text translated into English. From that perspective, even Latin American literature is very much part of world literature and has captivated the minds of research scholars, students and enthusiasts who have discovered that there is a world beyond the conventional English and American literature," says the professor, who has been a part of prestigious research stays like the one at Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City.
He has been the Visiting Scholar, Cervantes Institute, Madrid, Spain (2009) and Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Autonomous University of Sinaloa, Culiacan City, Mexico (2012)
The point of this world literature workshop is to let people enjoy literature and gain different perspectives. The participants will be given texts to mull over the week and will be encouraged to share their perspectives on these during the weekend session while being prodded with insightful questions from the professor himself. The name of the author and the title of the story is not revealed for a very specific purpose. "These factors influence the minds of readers who are being introduced to a text. If it's something written by well-known writers like Gabriel García Márquez in the context of his life and other works, the text might be interpreted in a different way," explains the professor who was born in Vasco da Gama, Goa and brought up in Delhi and Mumbai. Basically, you arrive at conclusions all by yourself.
There is not much that is conventional about the professor, those who are familiar with the music scene of Hyderabad would know this because Professor Negi is also a singer-songwriter and strums away on his guitar too. "More like an accidental musician actually," he laughs as he shares. He adds, "It was in the year 2012, after my teaching assignment in Mexico, that in a bid to do something more constructive, I started jamming. I started to pen my thoughts on the issues I see around me and compose unconsciously." A member of the band Indian Folks, he released a studio album called Safar in 2016, with seven of his songs in Hindi and Spanish. We suggest you tune into his songs like Talash which is on communal hatred and religious harmony or Beti Kare Sawal, where a daughter is asking various questions and is in four different languages.
So take the unconventional detour to literature to discover Latin American stories that will tell you more about its progression, and while sharing your perspective along with your fellow participants, you might just discover a little something about yourself too.
Here's about a few popular Latin American writers:
- Gabriel García Márquez: Colombian novelist best known for One Hundred Years of Solitude who won the Nobel Prize in Literature
- Pablo Neruda: Chilean poet-diplomat and politician has been called "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language"
- Jorge Luis Borges: Argentine short story writer is noted for his contributions to philosophical literature and the fantasy genre
For more on it reach out to the professor at surendrasinghnegi@