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4th Annual International Symposium: Against Storytelling

Celebrated authors such as Anjum Hasan and poets such as Arvind Krishna Mehrotra were present at the symposium this year.

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25 February, 2018 | 5 min read

The 4th Annual International Symposium: Against Storytelling was organized by Ashoka University in partnership with The University of East Anglia on 23 and 24 February 2018. The symposium was aimed at raising questions about the rise and centrality of ‘storytelling’ in the past decades and what it signifies to a culture. It laid the platform for discussions on imaginative work and if other aspects hold the attention as much as – often more than – ‘story’ does.

Celebrated authors such as Anjum Hasan, poets like Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Geoffrey O’Brien, critics and film directors like Gurvinder Singh were among the note-worthy personalities present at the symposium this year.

In his opening remarks, Amit Chaudhuri, Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia said, “The symposium aims at being a platform for opening up an intellectual conversation about writing and other creative forms of expression. It also aims to counter a set of terms created by the market in the 1990s, and to find a language with which to rediscover the strangeness of creative practices. The symposia aim at addressing topics that are no longer being addressed in mainstream academia, in conferences, or in literary festivals.”

The different sessions at the symposium were, ‘Lyric embarrassment or Why I can’t tell a story’, ‘Stories and Modern Indian Literatures’, ‘”What difference does it make?” For and Against Story telling via the novels of Kiran Nagarkar’, ‘A Story In Memory of John Ashbery’, ‘Cinema and Narrative’, ‘Combining Presences instead of Representing a Story on Stage’, ‘Storytelling and Forgetfulness’, ‘I Don’t Have Wings: Vinod Kumar Shukla’ and ‘Before Time: for David Antin.’

Speaking at the inaugural of the two-day symposium, Saikat Majumdar, Author, Professor of English and Creative Writing at Ashoka University said, “The ongoing symposia on literary activism stage is an appeal to fragment and scatter the notion of literary value. The fourth symposium celebrates eventlessness – the narrative that drifts away from the fetish of the significant event and keeps its distance from dominant notions of storytelling.”

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