The 11th Biennial Symposium on Literatures and Cultures of the Asia-Pacific Region

Perceiving from the Inside - After half a century of English, the language has acquired a local habitation and matured into Englishes, with its own variety of English in each country influenced by other inheritances such as Sanskrit, Persian etc.

Contact Details:

Email: [email protected]

Mr Rex Ian Sayson (Mr)
NUS Centre for the Arts
Tel: (65) 6874 6201
Fax: (65) 6778 1956

Literatures in Englishes and Their Centres:Perceiving from the Inside

Half a century of English for educational, administrative, creative and other purposes, has left it secure and thriving in virtually all former colonies. This adoption and rooting involved processes of self-definition, of varying the language so that it comes to acquire a local habitation and a name. It was driven in part by the emergence of a literature in English which, as it matured, turned into literatures in Englishes. India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore - each have comparatively substantial and challenging literatures in their own variety of English.

The topic invites us to look at these literatures from the inside for two main reasons. First, a great deal of the discussion and criticism is inspired by 'post-colonial' leanings and assumptions. While the term is no longer iconic, the literatures are still treated like lower-case 'others'. Consequently, the internal dynamics of these new literatures, in terms of their specific cultures, society and politics, tend to be overlooked. We know little, and therefore need to know more, about their organising centres. What inspires and shapes their fiction, poetry and drama? What defines each of their worldviews, governs social and other relationships?

And there is the influence of other literary inheritances, such as those from Sanskrit, Tamil, Persian, Bengali, Sinhala, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, Ilocano, that enter their English, fracturing, re-orientating, adding image, symbol and metaphor. While the older British and American literatures retain a synchronic force, the power and reach of these new literatures are robust enough to be taken seriously as helping to define, requiring that they be viewed with a sense of their background as well as the particular circumstances of their origin.

Knowledge of Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian politics of the last so many years will surely deepen and broaden the basis of assessing works such as Raja Rao's Kanthapura, K. S. Maniam's In a Far Country, Ee Tiang Hong's poetry, and C. J. Koch's The Year of Living Dangerously.

Defining literary 'centres':
- Cultural, and historical traditions and resources
- National, regional and global canons

Linguistic Issues:
- Interactions between English and national and regional languages
- Asian Englishes and the notion of Standard English

Concepts, Terminology and Paradigms:
- Indigenous metaphors, symbols, myths
- Comparative approaches to Western/regional poetics

It is hoped that the Symposium will attract papers ranging from those addressing theoretical issues to ones concentrating on single texts in detail while taking up some of these issues.

Offers of Papers are Invited for This Symposium

Papers (approximately 20 minutes and in English) on literatures and cultures in the Asia-Pacific region are welcome.

Please send an expression of interest and a few sentences of biography, as soon as possible, and certainly by 15 July 2005, by email, fax or letter to the address given.

Offers of papers together with a 200-word abstract should be received by 15 July 2005 (preferably earlier). It may not be possible to accept all offers of papers and those making early offers may be given priority.


The venue for the symposium will be the National University of Singapore, situated in the west of Singapore. NUS can be reached from Changi Airport by a 30-minute taxi ride, or an hour's train journey to Dover station followed by a 5-minute taxi ride. Weather in Singapore is usually sunny, inclined to be wet in December, with daily temperatures ranging from 23 to 31 degrees Celsius.

From 07 Dec 2005
Until 10 Dec 2005
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