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Papers on Language and Literature
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Volume 58, Number 3, 2022


SRIRUPA CHATTERJEE and SHREYA RASTOGI, “Colorism and Female Identity: Discourses from Twentieth Century Indian
Culture and Literature”

ABSTRACT: To examine how light skin, especially amongst Indian women, has been a powerful social capital, this essay exhumes the politics of colorism and female identity that is palpably present in both cultural and literary discourses of the twentieth century. It aims to uphold three things: one, by engaging with anthropological and historical readings, establish the prevalence of colorism in colonial and postcolonial India. Two, by highlighting epidermal hierarchies within popular Indian culture, address how skin color has inevitably governed women’s personal and professional lives. And three, by harnessing the subversive potential in select works of twentieth century Indian writers—Santa Chatterjee, Munshi Premchand, K. Saraswathi Amma, Kamala Markandaya, and Arundhati Roy—who hail from various cultural and geographic backgrounds, demonstrate how the supremacy of light skin is a pan-Indian phenomenon that needs to be resisted. Finally, this essay argues that the hegemony of light skin which till date continues to adversely affect Indian women’s self-esteem must be both confronted and quashed.

TODD COPELAND, “A Figure of Speech and a Speechless Figure: Determinations of Identity in George Sand’s Indiana and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth

ABSTRACT: George Sand’s Indiana and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth share a guiding interest in the function of appearances that—considered within the context of literary realism’s development—can be seen as contributing to the gradually dominating trope of exteriority in which fictional characters’ identities and actions are ineluctably determined and defined by such external forces as society, language, aesthetics, and commerce. The failure of Sand’s Raymon de Ramière and Wharton’s Lily Bart to realize themselves as independently empowered individuals exemplifies literary realism’s reassessment, closely tied to the rise of sociology as a discipline, of the long-standing, romantic tradition of a person’s potential to be a self-determining entity.


EMMA SMITH reviews  Peter Lake’s Hamlet’s Choice: Religion and Resistance in Shakespeare’s Revenge Tragedies. 

JOSHUA SWIDZINSKI reviews John William Knapp’s Fiddled out of Reason: Addison and the Rise of Hymnic Verse, 1687-1712.

 LAUREN CASSIDY reviews “Caliban’s Mirror: The 2022 Wilde and Joyce Symposium” 




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