Monday, December 3, 2018

Day 7: Short Takes: What Women Write at Women's Christian College

As part of the 2018 Prajnya 16 Days Campaign against Gender Violence in partnership with the English Department of the Women's Christian College we organised a special edition of 'Short Takes'. Short Takes is a short event with 4-6 TED-Style talks of 10 minutes each, on different aspects of a subject. The talks would be followed by a Q & A with the audience. 

For this edition, we decided to speak on women and literature. The question was, what do women write? 
The speakers were invited to speak on one of the following topics:

1. The Novelist and the Novel: Writers of fiction, especially of the novel which was identified with women writers. 
2. Writer as Heroine: Memoirs, autobiographies, letters and journals. 
3. The Witness and the Chronicle: Women writing non-fiction, such as biographies, histories, essays on politics and other real world subjects. 
4. Truth or Dare: Gender-based violence defines women's possibilities; does it have to feature in literature in order to authenticate a woman's voice?
5. The Seduction of Patriarchy: Romance novels and family sagas as 'chicklit,' written (mostly) by women for women. 
6. Writing from the Shadows: Writing that brings other gender and sexuality perspectives to life.

From the department, three pairs of speakers and two individual speakers had signed up for this event. The first pair spoke about the seduction of patriarchy, especially in chicklit written by women for women. Contemporary examples of Twilight, Hunger Games etc., were given to emphasise their point of how chicklit stereotypes women. Popular tropes in romance novels were discussed to state how women are described in these novels and how contrasting it is to reality. 

The second pair of speakers spoke on gender-based violence featuring in literature and its need to authenticate a woman's voice. One of the speakers of this pair had placed this question to the audience which elicited interesting responses. Majority of the responses seemed to lean towards the need to feature gender-based violence incidences in literature at least to raise awareness about violence against women. 

The third pair of speakers spoke about writing from the shadows, especially LGBTQ representation in literature both in terms of writers and protagonists, with a focus on Indian literature. The two independent speakers spoke about the topics of women in chicklit literature, and violence against women depicted in novels. Their talks were combined with the first two pairs of speakers respectively due to the relevance of the topic. 

The Q & A at the end of each session and the broader discussion at the end of the event brought forward realisations how patriarchal stereotypes define women and minorities in literature and most importantly our easy acceptance of it. 

Women's Christian College English department students will be adding a summarised report of the event to this post. 

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