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Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
The home page of Sanglap explains that “Sanglāp is a Sanskrit word. It means conversations between inquiring minds, or readers of thoughts. The rise of classical Indian philosophy owes its richness of aesthetic sensibility and rational faculty to the tradition of sanglāp.” Later in the page, the journal’s approach is described further, thusly: “To be faithful to the inherent reciprocity of a true Sanglap, we feel the need not only to read the literary in terms of the cultural but also the other way round i.e. reading the cultural in terms of the literary. We feel this is the right time to tap the infinitely extensible potential of the literary as a field, and try and establish it as an affective, perceptual and analytic category which can investigate the diverse edifice of the cultural.”
The latest issue of Sanglap examines the interplay between literature and culture through the theme, "Democracy, Resistance, and the Practice of Literature." In their introduction to the issue, issue editors Sourit Bhattacharya and Arka Chatttopadhyay note: “With the ISIS, Boko Haram or the Taliban practice, we have seen how resistance itself can produce a dangerous authoritarianism which further complicates the relations between democracy, authoritarianism and resistance. How do we historicize and ethically theorize resistance in relation to both democracy and an authoritarianism which borders on fascism? We would like to respond to these questions through their links with literature – not because this is what we consider to be the only way of engaging the topic but this is where our training lies. As will be clear with the articles in the issue, the engagement has been vastly differing and interdisciplinary.”
A quick look at those articles reveals subject matter that ranges over a host of disciplines and cultures: “Penny-wise…’: Ezra Pound’s Posthumous Legacy to Fascism,” “Resistance and Street Theatre: Democratizing the Space and Spatializing the Democracy,” “Fyataru and Subaltern War Cries: Nabarun Bhattacharya and the Rebirth of the Subject,” “Little Rebellions: Demands, Transgressions, and Anomalies in the Kamtapur Struggle,” “Academic Publishing on Student Debt: Homo Academicus Americanus,” “Fractured Identities, Moral Mediations, and Cancerous Aspirations of Madeline Lee and Silas Lapham: The Allure of Power versus the New Woman and the Nouveau Riche Man,” “Hydrocarbon Genre: The Oil Encounter in Abdel Munif’s Cities of Salt and Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason,” and “Late Capitalism and the Problem of Individual Agency: A Reading of the Poems of J. H. Prynne.” Authors in this issue come from India, the United Kingdom, Norway, and the United States, with affiliations to departments of English Literature, Women’s and Gender Studies, English and Comparative Literary Studies. Philosophy, Political Science, and History. Sanglāp, indeed.
In the inaugural issue of Sanglap, Vol 1. No 1, Terror and the Literary, issue editors Bhattacharya and Chattopadhyay note in their Introduction to the issue: “The complexity of terror as an affect makes for an intricate field where the objective territory of a terrifying event encounters subjective history and makes an imprint on mind, body, self and memory. Not only does it combine the public and the private, the religious and the political; it is a site where the technological repertoire of the plotted event meets the inexplicably sacred rupture of its irruption. The experience of terror does not remain restricted to the terrifying event but consolidates itself over time running through a series of affects like trauma, fear, horror and anxiety. Terror establishes a socio-psychic structure if not an industry in which the psychic apparatus of traumatic repetition and phobic fixation is complemented by a ‘culture of terror’.” The articles in that issue follow and describe these memes in detail: “Acknowledging Fascination with Catastrophe and Terrorism: September 11 and the Nuclear Destruction of Hiroshima/Nagasaki,” “Life, Law, and Abandonment in Giorgio Agamben,” “Horror’s Effect on Identity in Life of Pi and Arthur Gordon Pym,” “Literary Debate on the American Civil War: Goldwin Smith and the Problems of Equality in Global Mercantilism (of Cotton),” “Psychos’ Haunting Memories: A(n) (Un)common Literary Heritage,” “Autoimmunity and the Irony of Self-Definition: Translating the Economy of Terror,” “Sri Lankan Conflict and Tamil Nadu: Terror, Bare Life and Necropolitics,” “Reading Terror in Literature: Exploring Insurgency in Nagaland through Temsula Ao’s These Hills Called Home: Stories from a War Zone,” “Terror, Hospitality and the Gift of Death in Morrison’s Beloved,” “Hollywood’s Terror Industry: Idealized Beauty and The Bluest Eye,” and “Body and Terror: Women’s Bodies as Victims and Perpetrators of Terror.” Chilling as the theme of the issue is, the contents undeniably provide “conversations between inquiring minds,” juxtaposing the literary with cultural realities.
It’s to be hoped this journal continues to publish thoughtful, theme-organized discussions interweaving literature and culture. The presentation is modest, but the potential is great. A good title to bring to the attention of scholars throughout the humanities, social sciences, arts, and sciences: there is something here to benefit them all.