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Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Fisher-Bennett Hall, Graduate Lounge, room 330


Latitudes will be hosting Dr. Maya Joshi for a presentation titled 'Reading Sankrityayan's Twenty-Second Century today: Sleep of Centuries, Dreams of Utopia’ on Wednesday, April 18, at 6 pm in Fisher Bennett Hall Room 330. Dr. Joshi is Associate Professor in English at Lady Shri Ram College in the University of Delhi. She is currently at Penn as a Fulbright postdoctoral visiting scholar and is working on an intellectual biography of Rahul Sankrityayan. Dr Joshi will be joining us for a talk followed by a Q and A session. Please see below for an abstract of the talk:

The warp of time, the weft of space, and the state of nature-- these considerations serve as pegs for this presentation on a Hindi text called Baisvin Sadi (The Twenty-Second Century), by an extraordinary polymath, Rahul Sankrityayan (1893-1963) whose vast, genre-defying, oeuvre is the product of a largely auto-didactic, peripatetic life.  

The events of 1917 in Russia so affect an idealistic 25-year old in India, as to impel him to dream up a utopian future for the land of his birth.  His protagonist, awakening from a deep sleep, has no trace of the dystopic gloom that we find in H.G.Wells’ fictional stabs at the same trope,  published in the fin de siecle moment of European time. The story of his cave-dweller emerging into a changed world also suggests an interesting riff on the Socratic dialogues in Plato’s Republic.

Published in 1923, though dreamt up in 1918, the set of fictional essays lays out a vision of a global utopia, locally imagined. Today, exactly a century later, it comes to us filtered through a muddy and bloody twentieth century, and the planetary anxieties of the twenty-first. It is worth pausing to consider its dreams, as they speak to our current nightmares.