“Our epic is longer considered capable of producing great epics or great tragedies and in infect there are significant voices claiming the death of literature,” said Prof Hamida Bano, Head Department of English, University of Kashmir on Wednesday.
She was speaking at the inaugural session of two-day national seminar on “Revisiting literary classic in the postmodern secular world” organized by English Department, University of Kashmir.
She said, “A flat understanding post-Nietzschean world seems incapable of thinking of imagining grandly as the postmodern age is incapable of sustaining both grand visions and grand narratives.”
Talking about how classsics literature has become casualty of consumer culture, she said, “A consumer culture swallows proliferating literary criticism productions but literature, as understood in the classical sense, is the first casualty in the process. It is no longer learning profound truths about life and salvation and creative delight that used to be experienced in classrooms and in literary gatherings.”
At present literature is indeed fighting to survive in the desacralized context with incredulity towards all narratives of emancipation and in its obsession with the ontologies of the singular and the cult of surfaces, she added.
She also talked about how ideologies are preceded over pedagogies and said, “The precedence of ideology over pedagogy has now invaded departments of literature and culture. Although classics are still in curriculum but what they once signified and the way they were once taught has significantly changed.”
She added: “The question is: Should the culture of disavowal of classics be accepted with stoic resignation as warranted by changed cultural predilections of the postmodern world or should be critiqued and suspected in turn as complicit with certain ideological forces.”
Prof Sridhar Rajeswaran, Director Centre for advanced studies in India delivered his keynote address about “profound truths about life and salvation and creative delight.”
“Classics is a model, as adjective it defines being of highest quality, it is benchmark for highest authoritative,” he said.
He classified the classics into three types: Timeless classics, timebound classics and timefree classics.
“Timeless classics are many Greek and Roman tragedies, these are ageless, unfailing, never dying, indestructible,” he said.
Prof GR Malik was presiding over the chair and said, “I see contradiction between postmodernism and classics.”
“Classics is a work which captures timeless in time, universe in particles, we are all time bound and we cannot go out of time and postmodernism is at war with classics.”
He divided secularism into two domains: Political concept and western concept.
“In politics, we understand a state is neutral in beliefs of people and this is laudable and in western, it is a belief that only body matters in this world. And postmodernism reduced everthing to text.”
He said, “Postmodernism will pass away but classics will remain, continue to give us wisdom.”