CCYSC Blog Theme for July 2021: Dis/quieting Imaginings of Childhood in South Asia

Updated: Jul 3

We are excited to announce the CCYSC Blog Theme for July 2021: "Dis/quieting Imaginings of Childhood in South Asian Fiction and Film."


The movement in literary book history from the act of hearing to the act of reading – from stories heard in collective circles and passed as folktales, to the formation of books and novels as stories to be read individually, is a movement replete with the very conceptualization of interiority. It is this movement which A. R. Venkatachalapathy in his study of the novel in colonial Tamil Nadu, saw as “reading in silence,” (2011, 98) a stage which ensured the consumption of the novel as a European genre in South Asia. The act of reading forms and informs this inner life, an imaginative landscape of thought, fantasy, desire, tracing genealogies beyond one’s immediate surroundings – it is what the unnamed child narrator of The Shadow Lines sees as his uncle Tridib’s identity to take bookish knowledge and energize it, to give the narrator “worlds to travel in and eyes to see them with.”


It is this cultivation of quietness, that also becomes the stereotype behind the nerd trope, that which is capable of “solidarity in opposition to or subversion of the mainstream” (Woo 2012). The figure of the introverted child proliferates South-Asian literature – from Mr. Pirzada to the insecure narrator of Swimming Lessons. Even within these formulations, lies the centrality of the book, as we see in The Namesake, where Ashoke attempts to bond with the quiet Gogol through a book.


This theme attempts to unpack these stereotypical depictions of the quiet child within South Asian literature and cinema, and further investigate the intersection of literature and interiority in childhood studies – from literary representations of childhood interiorities in South Asia, to the physical act of reading itself and phenomenological explorations of the way reading creates fictional mindscapes for the child. How have these formulations modified in time, and how can we unpack contemporary depictions of the quiet child in terms of caste, class, and gender within South Asian artistic mediums? What are the multiple routes one can take to analyze the literary trope of the middle-class child protagonist, more often than not located in an urban milieu? Further investigations can also look at the psychological affect and mass cultural appeal of young-adult literature and film in South Asia and the particular iterations these hold for South Asian childhood and youth experiences of interiority: for instance, reception of adaptations (Gulliver’s Travels as Jajantram Mamantram), or the consumption of popular fantasy series such as The Hunger Games etc.


To this end, we invite submissions relevant to the theme of “Dis/quieting Imaginings of Childhood in South Asian Fiction and Film.” Contributors can widen their field of study to multiple texts, or particularize their focus to individual texts/thematic areas. Submissions can be made in a wide variety of genre and media: from academic papers, essays and research articles to creative submissions in the form of fiction, poetry, video or non-fiction essays, mixed media and photo essays, and articles focusing on classroom pedagogies. Written contributions should not be more than 1500-2000 words. For video contributions, please ensure that the file size is not more than 10 GB. All material should be sent to childyouth2020@gmail.com. Please send your submissions by 25th June.


Feel free to circulate this call with your circles. We look forward to your engagement with our theme!

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