The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao has attained both popular and critical acclaim. The novel is a melange of several interesting stylistic features. It brings social history, science fiction and magical fantasy all together in an experimental narrative form. The copious use of footnotes and imaginative asides are also notable. The novel is also an exposition on Dominican culture, especially with respect to notions of masculinity. It is held in Dominican culture that supernatural curses (fukus) and remedies (zafas) are integral parts of an individual’s life. Sometimes these fukus can get transferred across various generations of a family. While factually speaking these are no more than superstitions, for the natives, they are an integral part of life. Dominicans treats fukus and zafas as if they are divine revelations. This essay will delve into some of the perceived instances of fuku in the story of Oscar Wao and how some of them are resolved through the grace of . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Margaret Atwood has never shied away from controversial subjects and issues and her widely acclaimed novel Oryx And Crake contains its fair share of hard-hitting questions. Moreover, Atwood seldom gets into controversies for the sake of gaining publicity. Her bravadoes have always been to reflect on contemporary social, political and economic problems and this book too maintains this standard. Not quite a full-fledged science fiction novel, while at the same time not confining to the realist norm, the book can be loosely classified as ‘speculative with a tinge of dystopia’. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the book re-invokes the themes found in Aldous Huxley’s masterpiece A Brave New World. Just as in the latter, Oryx And Crake ponders on the darker aspects of technological development such as xenotransplantation, genetic engineering and creation of transgenic life forms. With a little creative license, Atwood presents readers with animals such as ‘wolvogs’, . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
The Age of Enlightenment was a period in early modern history when western societies, led by its intellectuals, made a marked shift from religion based authority to one of scientific reason. Prior to this period, the Church and the State were intricately interlinked; and the Enlightenment sought to sever states and politics from religion through the application of rational analysis based on scientific observation and facts. This movement traces its origins to the seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe. Similar undercurrents of scientific expression were seen in the New World as well, most notably from such intellectuals such as Tom Paine and other proponents of American independence. The rest of the essay will foray into the wider implications of the Enlightenment and try to capture its significance to the academia of today.
The Enlightenment has had a profound impact on the cultural evolution of Western Europe in particular and the whole of the continent in . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
On par with the written word, photography is a potent tool of historical documentation. The advent of still picture devices, as they were crudely called during their initial days, coincided with the peak years of European colonialism. While the concept of photography is a valuable aid for a historical scholar in presenting “facts”, the prevailing prejudices and biases of the imperial powers had influenced its ultimate usage. Though, photography had to pass through the veils of imperialist prejudices, it still remains a significant medium of studying history and the mindsets of the people who made that history.
To start with, photography was employed during the 1860’s for research purposes in the so-called “racial-science”. This was an age when Darwin’s theory of evolution was revolutionizing the society. Yet, some deviant off-shoots of the theory of evolution like “social Darwinism” and “racial group selection based evolution” were gaining ground . . . Read MoreContinue Reading