University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

Women's Prison Writings

Monday, September 12, 2016
4:00pm – 5:30pm

Storrs Campus
HBL Class of 1947 Room

Monday, September 12 / 4:00 pm HBL – Class of 1947 Room “1970s Women’s Prison Writings in Bengal, India and the Americas”

Co-sponsored by India Studies and Asian/Asian American Studies Institute

Open to the Public

SHARMILA PURKAYASTHA teaches English in Miranda House, Delhi University, and obtained her PhD from the Department of English, Delhi University. Her dissertation research was a study of the relationship between literature and radical politics during the 1970s in Bengal. Given the paucity of available scholarly work on the topic, the study provided parameters for evaluating the mediation between literary genres and political ideas. Among the rich diversity of literary forms that were produced in the wake of the Naxalite movement, women’s prison writing remains a fascinating yet neglected field of study. These writings by women political participants offer valuable insights into how women lived and coped under detention.

Dr. Purkayastha is in the US on a Fulbright-Nehru project that assesses the radical potential of women’s prison writings of the Naxalite period by comparing them with similar writings produced in selected countries of the Americas in the 1970s. This comparative model contributes toward an understanding of resistance literature and sheds light on the gendered nature of political participation and the unique aesthetic qualities of testimonial literature of the period. The study enables readers to treat women’s prison writings as a valuable source of historical knowledge and aids a feminist understanding of women’s political participation.

Purkayastha is co-editor and contributor of Towards Freedom: Critical Studies on Ghare Bhaire (Orient Longman, 2007). She has been a long time human rights activist, involved in research and writing on these issues.


Ms Fe Delos-Santos at

Asian American Studies Institute (primary), English Department, First Year Programs & Learning Communities, Human Rights Institute, Office of Global Affairs, UConn Master Calendar

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