Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

Spring 2011 South Asia Seminar Series

Thu, April 14, 2011 | Meyerson Conference Room, WCH 4.118

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

"Pulp It Up in Tamil!"

About the Series

At the end of the twentieth century, debates about South Asian literature still circulated around two main themes: the problematic "authenticity" of globally marketed Anglophone writing and the putative "provinciality" of writing in the bhasha (or vernacular) languages. But in the last decade, there have been a number of new trends which add new textures to this simplified problematic: the rise of an Anglophone reading public specific to the subcontinent with its own popularly recognized figures, the marketing of bhasha styles in popular western cultural forms, the growing popularity of south Asian writing from outside of India (especially Pakistan and Bangladesh), new opportunities for collaboration between artists in various languages in the subcontinent, the growth of vernacular literary traditions in electronic media, and the new global crisis in publishing which has also contracted certain reading publics. This seminar series will explore the changing social contexts in south Asia and the world that affected reading publics and their relationship to new trends in South Asian writing in many languages. Regular seminars occur on Thursdays at 3:30 pm, preceded by a reception at 3:00 pm, in the Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118).

About the Speaker

Pritham K Chakravarthy is an independent researcher, playwright, director, performer, film critic and activist from Chennai. She graduated Bachelor of Commerce from Madras Christian College, Tambaram.

She has extensive experience in the theatre. Her recent performances include: Meendum Meendum, Surya Mukam and her own solo piece about aravanis: Nirvanam. (2000-04) The script and the performance by Pritham Chakravarthy was evolved after six months of research and recorded interviews with members of the hijra community. This production has toured India, the USA under a Fulbright Fellowship and 2002 Edinburgh International Festival. Pritham Chakravarthy appeared in Mirror – at Pragirthi Foundation, a solo one woman narrative written by Venkatesh Chakravarthy (2003) ; Vellavi – at The Other Festival (2003), and many other parts in Tamil productions over the past 25 years. She is presently working on Orientations, a theatre production by Border Crossings, which opened in London in October 2003, and is due to tour the UK and India in 2004-05.

Her research experience includes a year as Research Associate, Reproductive Rights in early 20th Century, Director, Dr Sarah Hodges, Warwick University, UK (2003-04); Research Associate, Politics of Temple Entry, Director, Dr. Anupama Rao, Barnard College, Columbia University (2003); Research Associate for ‘Continuing Unity – Nation and State’ , Directors Milton Israel and Dipankar Gupta; University of Toronto (2000- 2002)

For the Media South Asia Project she conducted surveys and interviews on responses to the satellite media in Tamilnadu.

Pritham was the researcher of Tamil cinema for The Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, edited by Paul Wilhieman & Asish Rajyadasha, and published by BFI.

Pritham Chakravarthy has taught and conducted many courses and workshops in film and media at schools and colleges in Tamilnadu over the past 20 years.

She has recently translated two volumes of  Tamil pulp fiction, a compilation of pulp stories written by Tamil authors, and  published as “The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction; Vol 1 & 2. These stories, while popular with the people, are not considered good enough for literature. Falling in to the category of pulp, these highly entertaining stories truly reflect the times they were written in. Also with Blaft are her other publicatons; Zero Degree & Where Are  You Going, You Monkeys. Her forthcoming three publications are with Penguin India.

Her other publications include Innum Ethanai Kaalam Thaan – a critical analysis on the growth of Tamil cinema co-authored with Venkatesh Chakravarthy for Nakeeran, (2002); Ippadiyaga – a critical article on the stardom of Rajnikanth, the Tamil film super star, in India Today (2000); Phe-nominal Women – a critical essay on the representation of female sexuality in Tamil cinema, Deep Focus, Bangalore (1996).She was Film & Television critic for Salanam, an alternative journal of Chennai Film Society (1994-95), and has co authored a Tamil book, Akira Kurosawa, Chennai Book House,Chennai(1991). She has translated short stories of Satyajit Ray and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and other well known authors for various literary Tamil magazines eg Subamangala and Kalkudhirai (1985-2002). She is an experienced television, film and documentary script-writer.

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