Date(s) - 22/03/2017
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Through the lens of three Anglophone novels by Indian women writers, my talk will grapple with the politics of cross-class seduction and desire. I will focus on the portrayal of a sexual affair or encounter between lower-class female employees and their male employers as depicted in The God of Small Things, The Hottest Day of the Year and The Space between Us. I will examine the complex intersection of class hierarchy and patriarchy in the novels and the ambiguity of heterosexual relationships in a deeply hierarchical context, where desire may coexist with coercion, thereby seriously complicating the notion of consent. The very different approaches adopted by Umrigar and Charry to the question of abortion will be considered in detail, as they bring to the fore the complex relationship between gender and socio-economic marginality.
Maryam Mirza received her PhD in English Studies from Aix-Marseille University, France and is currently a BeIPD-COFUND Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Liege, Belgium. She is the author of a monograph entitled Intimate Class Acts: Friendship and Desire in Indian and Pakistani Women’s Fiction (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016), and her articles have appeared in journals such as The Journal of Commonwealth Literature and Gender, Place & Culture.
As a visiting researcher at the South Asia Diaspora International Researchers’ Network (SADIRN) and Monash Asia Institute from 20 February 2017 to 25 March 2017, Maryam Mirza will carry out research on South Asian-Australian fiction by women writers (notably Chandani Lokuge, Chitra Fernando and Michelle de Kretser), and will participate in the activities of the South Asian Diaspora International Researchers’ Network. Her research will focus on the literary depiction of the work/class identities of South Asian women in the diaspora.