The inaugural issue of JUSAS-Online brings together a collection of essays read mostly at our February 2013 seminar on ‘Transnationalism in the American Perspective’ along with those culled from the proceedings of various sundry seminars. Revolving around the theme of Transnationalism in American literature, art and culture, they illustrate not only the broad reach of the term but also the aims and the motivating impulses of JUSAS.
Though in usage since the 90s, ‘Transnationalism’ as a term is still in the process of crystallization. It is applicable in diverse disciplines and a variety of contexts with a plethora of connotations. We have, however, decided to be undeterred by he niceties of definition and usage, and focus on the root-meaning of the term – ‘That which transcends or extends beyond loyalty to any specific national or ethnic group’ – in order to explore a literature and an art that has become inclusive and expansive by the process of osmosis or absorption and impressments of multiple influences and cross-relations. ‘Crossing borders’ is a nodal phrase which scholars (inspired by Gloria Anzeldua’s use of it several decades ago) are fond of invoking in this connection. In this collection, we take ‘borders’ to indicate not just contiguous land-borders but oceanic ones – the Atlantic and the Pacific – separating the North American continent from Europe, Asia or Africa. While using the term ‘Transnationalism’ in the broadest possible sense, we shall be subverting the hegemony of nations and ‘home country’ loyalties in order to emphasize the inevitable movement in this century to global intellectual community that defies all frontiers, literary, cultural, social or geographical. Yet due to America’s unique historical experience, one of incessant migration and mobility, its literature and art seem particularly vulnerable to the ceaseless process of border crossing, interaction, inclusion, and expansion so as to become palimpsestic. The simple aim of our contributors has been to seek an easy but illuminating entry into American literary texts or music, films and other art-forms by tracing the interactions writers, musicians, thespians or literary critics have had with extra-American influences on all frequencies rather than to emphasize identity-based formulations, be they ethnic, feminist, post-colonial, subaltern or ‘queer’.
The second issue of JUSAS-Online, titled STUDENTSPEAK, will carry essays by the more ‘inspired’ students and, we hope, provide interesting reading. The collection will include a few papers read at earlier JUSAS seminars by amateur researchers who have now gone on to higher things. The final issue, TRANSLATION TRANSPLANTATION TRANSCREATION, will comprise of Bengali translations of American poetry, the products of the second JUSAS Translation Workshop, held in 2012.
This particular issue comprises of contributions from:
- Supriya Chaudhuri, Professor (Emeritus), Jadavpur University
- Jayati Gupta, Professor, West Bengal State University
- Sukla Basu (Sen), Professor, Visva-Bharati
- Gopalan Mullick, Professor, St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta
- Ajanta Paul, Professor and Principal, Women’s Christian College
- Indrajit Bose, Associate Professor, Guru Nanak Institute of Technology
- Trisha Ray, Postgraduate Student, Jadavpur University