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Title:Overlapping Terrains: Orientalism, Indian Nationalism and the Erotics of Cross -Cultural Contact
Author(s):Basu, Sriparna
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Janet Smarr
Department / Program:Comparative Literature
Discipline:Comparative Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Asian
Abstract:The dissertation explores issues of cross-cultural erotics in twentieth-century narratives set in colonial India. It examines narratives by E. M. Forster, Mircea Eliade, Maitreyi Devi and Rabindranath Tagore, which provide a romance setting for themes of East/West encounter. The necessity of addressing or accommodating the "other" in these texts creates the conditions for a certain collaborative or collusive intimacy. Yet this intimacy is repeatedly overshadowed by colonial surveillance and prohibition, as well as a nationalist desire to carve out an identity proclaiming autonomy from Europe and the West. The dissertation assesses the overlaps as well as differences between anthropological/modernist Orientalism and Indian nationalist representational endeavors and examines Orientalism's and Indian nationalism's epistemological limits and failures, as well as the problematic character of the boundaries between sanctioned and unsanctioned cultural contact in the colonial terrain. It also examines the rhetorics of femininity and the female body present in Orientalist as well as nationalist projections of India. Within modernist narratives such as Forster's or Eliade's, although the East is othered, it is also seen to possess a secret of the Western self that is unknown to itself, setting the stage for a series of ambivalent encounters and uncanny recognitions. The cultural nationalism present in Devi's or Tagore's texts appropriates this ambivalence in colonial discourse by projecting an India different from the West in terms of the spiritual truths that it upholds. While discourse on the East/West encounter by both Europeans and Indians is suffused by a sublimated erotics, overt expressions of desire are repressed within their narratives. East/West difference appears as a metaphysical barrier which cannot be transcended.
Issue Date:1999
Description:296 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9944793
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:1999

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