Jun'19

The IUP Journal of English Studies

Focus

Ensconced amid the Judean Hills and seen once as the center of the world, Jerusalem is a city like no other in the world. Its history is a history of a long struggle for hope, healing, and justice. It has been the holiest city and spiritual center of the Jews since time immemorial. The popular Jewish belief is that Adam, the first man, was created at the same spot where the altar of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem would stand later. After he was evicted from the Garden of Eden, Adam was believed to have come again to the same place to offer sacrifice to God. The said altar in Jerusalem remained a permanent shrine where all people could worship God until it was destroyed by the Great Flood. It was again rebuilt by Noah. Later, it was at the same place where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. Abraham, after passing God’s test, called the place “Yireh” or “Yiru” (Jeru), meaning “awe.” When this western part of the city was united with the eastern part “Shalem” (Salem)—which is possibly a reference to the city-god Shalem, worshipped in the days of the Canaanites—the city came to be known by its present name “Jerusalem,” meaning “complete awe of God.”

Importantly, these religious figures, among others, and the city itself are central and sacred not only to Judaism but also to the other two fellow Abrahamic monotheistic faiths—Christianity and Islam. Their respective religious texts feature the same figures and places, though assigning different explanations and meanings, thus making Jerusalem an inevitable battlefield for clashing civilizations.

Jerusalem is the house of the one God (YHWH/God the Father/Allah); however, its ownership is contested by two peoples (Jews and Muslims), and it is considered to be the temple of three religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). The fact that the adherents to these three Abrahamic faiths account for more than 50 percent of the world’s population makes Jerusalem the most revered sanctified city in the world.

Yet, visitors to Jerusalem who come today looking for some authentic spiritual experience would be disappointed. What they get to see is perhaps not what they imagined. Frenzied mythmaking has not been able to hide the horrid realities of vicious sectarianism and politicking. The city has historically borne the brunt of the brutality of the invaders and ownership-claimants, losing in the process some of its spiritual sheen.

But then, holiness is not just about faith and symbols, it is also about history and heritage, tradition and legitimacy, which Jerusalem certainly has bragging rights for. And, though caught in the crossfire of claims and counterclaims of the faithful, the city still exudes certain mystery and sublimity, evoking awe and reverence. Pico Iyer—British-born American travel writer of Indian descent—sums up this contradiction neatly: “I would never call Jerusalem beautiful or comfortable or consoling. But there’s something about it that you can’t turn away from.” And to its credit, the city has managed to retain its hybridity and cosmopolitanism made up of multifaceted, multilayered, and mutating mosaic of peoples, faiths, and sects.

Though Jerusalem is claimed to be existing both terrestrially and celestially, the city is not a utopia, i.e., an imaginary place or a site with no real place. On the other hand, Jerusalem with its contradictions conveniently conforms to what Michel Foucault calls, in “Des Espace Autres” or “Of Other Spaces” (1967), a heterotopia: it is sacred, privileged, and forbidden; it juxtaposes in a single real place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible; and it is linked to slices in time.

Aya Akkawi shows, applying Foucault’s concept of “heterotopia” to the delineation of Jerusalem in Robert Stone’s novel Damascus Gate, how seeing Jerusalem as a heterotopic space helps critically analyze the different experiences that Stone’s characters go through when they come in contact with the city’s disturbing, intense, incompatible, and transforming spaces.

Nibir K Ghosh discusses how Ralph Ellison explores, through his novel Invisible Man, all the major aspects of racial divide and confrontation in the American society with a view to arriving at a tangible solution to the problem of color line and black-white inequality.

Sandhya V and Harini Jayaraman examine the essence and making of the constructed nature of gendered identity, resistance to binary mechanisms of power and control, and doing gender differently in Kamala Das’s works with reference to Judith Butler’s theorization of gender.

Kusha Tiwari, in her ecocritical reading of Nadine Gordimer’s novel Get a Life, highlights Gordimer’s use of the creative potential of literature to draw attention to the post-globalization environmental issues such as overutilization of natural resources, exploitative nature of urban progress, and deteriorating man-nature relationship.

Raad Kareem Abd-Aun elucidates how Derek Walcott has used sea as the matter and a metaphor in some of his poems to go on an exploration of history in quest for his identity.

Nicholas Tze Ping Pang, Sheba D Mani, and Jiann Lin Loo, in their interesting study of Malaysian poet Wong Phui Nam’s “Last Days in Hospital,” explain how the said poem is a remarkable attempt at portraying both the physical and mental sequelae of an illness, thus drawing the readers’ attention to the genre’s capacity to enlighten and heal.

Sreetanwi Chakraborty, based on her critical analysis of three South Asian women-centric movies, infers that the realm of South Asian films is a curious blend of the conventional and the free-spirited, though they often show a tendency to congeal into the stereotypes of “the fallible, the familial, and the fastidious.”

J Frederick Allen contends, using examples drawn from the history of Indian sculpture and the concept of tinai from Sangam (Tamil) literature, that the Mahishasuramardini sculpture at Mamallapuram (Tamil Nadu, India) represents the symbolic victory of the integrative oikos/tinai over the hierarchic oikos/tinai, thanks to the sculptor who chose to cock a snook at the hierarchy-based poetics.

Laila Samavarchi, Azar Fatemi Hosseini, and Behzad Ghonsooly, in their qualitative analysis of Iranian university students majoring in English, find that EFL learners use “language learner immunity” to overcome psychological barriers to learning such as anxiety, demotivation, lack of proficiency in teachers, and outmoded teaching materials.

M Srilakshmi avers that pre, while, and post reading activities better help the learners in successfully reading, understanding, and learning a selected a prose piece compared to the traditional method of teaching.

-Venkatesan Iyengar
Consulting Editor

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Heterotopic Jerusalem: A Foucauldian Approach to Robert Stone’s Damascus Gate
50
Democracy and Dilemma: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
50
Citationality of Gender: Judith Butler and Kamala Das
50
Ecology Versus Materiality: An Ecocritical Reading of Nadine Gordimer’s Get a Life
50
The Sea as Locus of History and Identity in Selected Poems by Derek Walcott
50
Portrayal of Delirium in Wong Phui Nam’s “Last Days in Hospital”
50
The Fallible, the Familial, and the Fastidious: A Critical Analysis of Three South Asian Women-Centric Movies
50
Mahishasuramardini at Mamallapuram: A Symbol of the Integrative Oikos
50
Learner Immunity in an EFL Context: A Qualitative Case Study of Iranian University Students Majoring in English
50
Effective Reading Strategies to Teach Prose: An Empirical Study
50
     
Articles

Heterotopic Jerusalem: A Foucauldian Approach to Robert Stone’s Damascus Gate
Aya Akkawi

How should we define Jerusalem as a space? In order to understand Jerusalem as a space, the relationship between experience and space and its embodiment of the forces that shape and articulate one’s experience of Jerusalem are examined by applying an analytical frame of Michel Foucault’s concept of “Heterotopia” on Robert Stone’s Damascus Gate. Thus, this paper highlights how we read Stone’s Jerusalem as a heterotopia. Understanding Jerusalem as a heterotopic space, then, offers a style of critical thinking that invites moral reflection on Stone’s characters’ versions, reactions, and experiences uniquely attached to Jerusalem as a space. The major characters in the novel are all visitors to the city; their experience of it oscillates between clarity and confusion. Thus, this paradoxical structure of feelings, which happens once Stone’s characters are exposed to Jerusalem as a heterotopia, reflects their association and interaction with Jerusalem as a space, articulates the characters’ experience within that space, and demonstrates how this heterotopic space provokes other experiences of the self and identity.


© 2019 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

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Democracy and Dilemma: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Nibir K Ghosh

Beginning with the complexities created by the color line in the racial discourse of the world’s most powerful democracy, the USA, the paper brings into bold relief the significance of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in the pantheon of African American writings. It offers a kaleidoscopic vision into the major historical landmarks that shaped the racial experience in America. The nameless black narrator, in his journey towards self-discovery, realizes he is invisible not because people cannot see him but because they refuse to see him. He is treated not as a human being but simply as a natural resource for the benefit and convenience of the white man. Unlike the overtly militant Bigger Thomas in Richard Wright’s Native Son, the narrator in Ellison’s novel accepts and affirms that even an invisible man has a “socially responsible” role to play. Rather than indulging in a politics of retreat, he prefers the stance of the politics of affirmation to assert his own identity and existence. By exploring all the significant aspects of the racial confrontation and by looking for a tangible solution to bring about a black-white interface, Ellison has produced through Invisible Man a state of mind from where one can begin to understand the “American Dilemma” better than ever before.


© 2019 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

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Citationality of Gender: Judith Butler and Kamala Das
Sandhya V and Harini Jayaraman

One of the most enduring influences of poststructuralism is its radical redefinition of subjectivity. The constructed nature of the “self” or rather the “subject” and the contingencies involved in its construction have been discussed by poststructuralist philosophers in quite interesting ways. The theorization of gender by Judith Butler is mostly on these lines. Taking her cue from Derrida, Lacan, and Foucault, Butler makes a close study of the “constructed” nature of gendered identity and the mechanics of power that has gone into the making of it. For Butler, gender is not what one is born into, but a “role” one performs, comprising repeated stylized acts which are “citational” in nature. Her deliberations on gender become more significant when we read the creative works of writers who have delved into the intricacies of gender construction, from this perspective. Kamala Das’s works display an amazing affinity to deconstruct the behavioral patterns associated with gender roles. The way Das’s characters debunk the gender roles that they are expected to perform and the close portrayal of their subjectivity that resists the taxonomy of a gendered identity are quite “Butlerian” in spirit. Hence, this paper, while trying to bring out how gender is “performed” differently in Das’s works, also seeks to shed light on the resistance to power such difference in gender performativity entails.


© 2019 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

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Ecology Versus Materiality: An Ecocritical Reading of Nadine Gordimer’s Get a Life
Kusha Tiwari

This paper examines how nature is culturally inscribed and how there is no retreat into a tranquil pastoral landscape from the decadent human world through a study of Nadine Gordimer’s Get a Life. In this novel, Gordimer explores how the moment of crisis (the protagonist’s fatal illness) explicitly foregrounds what commonplace rhythms might conceal, namely, attachments to both places and people that are more and more deterritorialized in the contemporary age of global connectedness. The author here, interestingly, emphasizes the wrongness of any human claim over land as it equally belongs to all the beings living on the planet. Thus, the whole idea of land ownership and redistribution, closely associated with colonial, neocolonial, and postcolonial pursuits, is invalidated here. Globalization has led to economic growth and technological progress around the world, but it has also given rise to certain major environmental inconsistencies, especially in the developing nations. Thus, the paper examines the South African landscape as explored in Get a Life where the author propagates an understanding of nature as both a physical entity and a cultural construct, thereby debunking the notion of hierarchical human dominance.


© 2018 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

Article Price : ? 50

The Sea as Locus of History and Identity in Selected Poems by Derek Walcott
Raad Kareem Abd-Aun

Both the sea and history occupy prominent places in the literature written by postcolonial writers. Derek Walcott shows a great interest in both the sea and history in his poetry. This paper investigates, through a close analysis of selected short poems by Walcott, how he uses both the sea and history as loci to search for his identity.


© 2019 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

Article Price : ? 50

Portrayal of Delirium in Wong Phui Nam’s “Last Days in Hospital”
Nicholas Tze Ping Pang, Sheba D Mani, and Jiann Lin Loo

Delirium is a psychiatric disorder featuring disturbance of consciousness and cognitive changes, usually secondary to underlying medical conditions. It commonly occurs in hospitals, particularly in postoperative settings. Despite its frequency, its description in literature, specifically in Southeast Asian literature, is rare. This paper examines “Last Days in Hospital,” a contemporary poem by Malaysian poet Wong Phui Nam, as part of an interdisciplinary Medicine and Humanities module at a medical university. It explores the evidence for delirium from the poem and the sound imagery that further bolsters the diagnosis, and examines the synthesis of these two factors in contributing to the poem’s being a unique and interesting way of looking at contemporary portrayals of delirium in poetry.


© 2019 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

Article Price : ? 50

The Fallible, the Familial, and the Fastidious: A Critical Analysis of Three South Asian Women-Centric Movies
Sreetanwi Chakraborty

The entire corpus of diasporic and migrant films is punctuated with various instances of loss of identity and pangs of alienation. With multiculturalism lurking large at the core of every fundamental aspect of diasporic films, the settings, characters, situations, and plots get imbued with multiple colors that blur the overall identity of an individual. This is seen not just in films, but also in theatre, in literature, and in art. One such tale of diasporic displacement and finding the identity of the female self is narrated in the 1999 film Chutney Popcorn directed by Nisha Ganatra. The film is a fine tapestry of sexual conflicts, marginalization of women, and re-identification of the national distinctiveness of a woman. The other film that is part of this discussion is Amu directed by Shonali Bose, starring Konkona Sen Sharma as the protagonist. The film is set in the backdrop of the Sikh massacre in India in 1984. It is not just about how Kajori, a twentyone- year-old American-Indian woman discovers her roots and the taste of “real India,” but it is also a vivid frame capturing the ideas of truth, injustice, and the (mis)representation of history. Finally, this piece also analyzes the position of women in the life of a male partner, or in a husband’s life. The Great Indian Butterfly directed by Sarthak Dasgupta takes us on a meandering journey of human relationships, marital fidelity, and the illusions surrounding the concept of blissful conjugation.


© 2019 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

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Mahishasuramardini at Mamallapuram: A Symbol of the Integrative Oikos
J Frederick Allen

Ecocritical tools offer an opportunity to analyze not only literary texts but also other art forms like visual arts, paintings, and sculptures. More than any art form, it is sculpture that has been used most as a propaganda tool. Kings and leaders have erected sculptures of themselves or their ancestors in great numbers. Even greater numbers of sculptures have been carved with a view to propagating religion. Historians today are discovering the hidden messages in sculptures when they examine them with newer tools of analysis. This paper uses ecocritical tools to analyze a sculpture and propounds an oikic interpretation of the sculpture of Mahishasuramardini at Mamallapuram in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.


© 2019 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

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Learner Immunity in an EFL Context: A Qualitative Case Study of Iranian University Students Majoring in English
Laila Samavarchi, Azar Fatemi Hosseini, and Behzad Ghonsooly

Even though English is not the primary or even secondary source of communication in Iran, it is considered as a language of high importance due to several reasons. Iranian EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners experience a kaleidoscope of feelings and emotions ranging from extremely positive to highly negative to neutral. Considering that EFL learners encounter such feelings and emotions consciously or subconsciously, this study introduces the term “language learner immunity” to incorporate the notion of EFL learners’ ability to overcome psychological barriers such as demotivation and stress. They do so by shielding themselves with a protective armor, i.e., learner immunity, which in turn might lead to effective language learning. To this end, twelve Iranian university students majoring in English were interviewed in-depth in an attempt to gain a deep insight into their experiences. The data were then qualitatively analyzed by a thorough process of coding and memoing. Based on the analysis, language learner immunity was broken down into five categories depending on the extent to which the learners were immunized.


© 2019 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

Article Price : ? 50

Effective Reading Strategies to Teach Prose: An Empirical Study
M Srilakshmi

It is found that the ability to read a printed text plays a vital role in developing a student’s comprehension. Many students struggle to comprehend what they read in their class because they lack not only deep involvement with their text but also strategies which help them in understanding a text. Pre, while, and post reading activities assist the learners in successfully reading, understanding, learning, and enjoying a selected text and make reading more communicative. This empirical study emphasizes on pre, while, and post reading activities to teach prose. For this study, two prose lessons of equal complexity were selected and taught to one group. The first lesson was taught using the traditional method, and the second lesson was taught using pre, while, and post reading activities. A questionnaire and a checklist were prepared to evaluate the students’ attitude, and data with written answers was collected. Informal discussions were held after the sessions. The findings of the study revealed that pre, while, and post reading activities helped the students improve their reading skills.


© 2019 IUP. All Rights Reserved.

Article Price : ? 50

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