Conference held on '100 Years of The Wasteland, Ulysses, Jacob's Room'

Aligarh: A two-day International Conference on “100 Years of The Wasteland, Ulysses and Jacob's Room” was organized by the Department of English, Aligarh Muslim University.

Prof. Azarmi Dukht Safavi, Founder, Honorary Advisor, and Former Director, Institute of Persian Research, congratulated the organizing secretary and Chairman of the Department of English, Prof. Mohammad Asim Siddiqui for conceiving and organizing such an inclusive and multidisciplinary seminar, adding that the language departments should include other languages and cultures in their literary events. She also talked about the Arabic wasteland depicted in Persian Literature.

Prof. Siddiqui in his concluding remarks underlined the possibilities of reading and re-reading a text from endless perspectives, as manifested in the conference.

Prof. Samina Khan highlighted the main features of the cultural evening, which she organized along with Prof. Aysha Munira Rasheed, to acquaint the participants with the culture of the place which is a combination of western ethos and eastern values.

In the detailed report of the conference, the convener, Dr. Kishwar Zafir said that the focus of the conference was on modernism and modernity, the two major contesting terms about the highly dynamic 20th century as a way of thought and expression.

Around 150 participants from all over the country attended the conference and 23 paper reading sessions in the hybrid mode were organized on a wide range of topics, from Eliot’s modernism to Woolf’s feminism.

The conference had three plenary sessions on different aspects of modernism, both in its temporal and spatial dimensions. The keynote address was delivered by Prof Motilal Raina of Punjab University from Chandigarh, who talked about the modernism of Eliot, Joyce, and Woolf in the context of Europe vis-a-vis the rest of the world.

Prof Anisur Rahman of Jamia Milia Islamia from New Delhi, in his plenary address, discussed the popularity of TS Eliot sharing his own experience of dealing with the writer as a student and as a teacher. He mentioned how these three texts have been talked about since 1922 but it was only in 2023 that Prof Asim Siddiqui undertook the daunting task of organizing the conference on the 100 years of these canonical writings.

Prof Amritjit Singh of Ohio State University from the USA, in his plenary talk, highlighted “the Underbelly of Modernism” in the context of the attitude of these highly applauded modernist writers towards neglecting the war poets.

Breaking the chain of discussion on European modernism, an authors’ round table discussion with Prof. Khalid Jawed and Prof. Anisur Rahman was held with Prof. Mohammad Asim Siddiqui as the moderator wherein a lively discussion took place about the impact of Eliot on Urdu literature and the modernistic trends found in Urdu and other literature of the world, even prior to Eliot.

The conference was preceded by a series of lectures and panel discussions on TS Eliot, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf by faculties from both within and outside the campus. Under the able guidance and supervision of Prof Mohammad Asim Siddiqui, such a series of pre-conference events has been organized for the first time.

The notable pre-conference speakers included Prof. SZH Abidi and Prof. Ameena Kazi Ansari, to name a few.

A number of competitions were also held by the department as a part of the pre-conference events focusing on the translation, adaptation, re-imagination, and reinterpretation of the texts under consideration. The names of the winners of the competitions which were divided into two categories – pictorial representation and poetry – were announced by Prof. Aysha Munira in the valedictory session. In Pictorial representation, first, second and third prizes were won by Maheen Zuberi, Zoya Ahmad, and Adeel Alam, respectively. The prize for poetry was shared by Mohammad Anas and Shams Ud Doha. Dr. Md. Sajidul Islam was the coordinator for the events.

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