#TGAP (The Ghosts And Poltergeists, July 11, 2015):

SynTalk thinks about the provocative questions of spectres, spirits, & ghosts, as themselves and as signifiers, while constantly wondering if they are an unnecessary residue. Can we think of the repressed voices in places of violence and ruin, using ideas of ghosts and haunting? What is the thing that haunts? What is the big deal about the ghosts? The concepts are derived off / from Plutarch, Ludwig Lavater, Thomas Lodge, Shakespeare, Nicholas Rowe, Heidegger, Freud, Weber, Adorno, Levinas, Tagore, Amos Tutuola, Derrida, Kurosawa, Arjun Appadurai, Stephen Greenblatt, Jean-Michel Rabaté, & Avery F. Gordon, among others. How the juxtaposition of the familiar with the unfamiliar creates the uncanny? Would something entirely unfamiliar be uncanny or just plain strange? Can the spectral be defined at all? How hauntology potentially challenges ontology? Do ghosts represent a world order where things are not arbitrary, and where actions have repercussions? How Shakespeare added a sense of wonder and mystery to the figure of the ghost, & made it substantial. Is Shakespeare’s Hamlet a Protestant with a Roman Catholic father? Should Hamlet have followed what the Ghost said? Are ghosts almost always ethically haunting figures? How the Derridean ghost is a bodyless body, and not a spirit without a body? Is every sense of our Being always haunted (with Nothingness)? How time is ‘out of joint’ with the ghostly. Does the uncertainty of the future always unsettle the past? Does modernity render the unexplainable superfluous, & what then are the ghosts of modernity? Is the cinematic consciousness ultimately a very spectral consciousness? What has been the life of ghosts in (say) Indian, Japanese, & South East Asian cinema? Why do Shakespeare’s tragic protagonists always see more than the others? Can a hyper rational mind experience the spectral? The links between Ur-Hamlet, 49, temporal twist, Macbeth, trauma, Hiroshima, turning table, purgatory, Madhumati, goblin, witches, The Babadook, spectral housing in Mumbai, magic, white noise, & Bhooter Bhobishyot. How the ghost expresses the yearning to grasp the mystery of history. Can we get hold of the Levinasian ‘trace’? Are there cultures without ghosts? Would our (otherwise sterile) lives need the pollution or infection of other worldliness in the future? Is it almost impossible to live without ghosts? ‘Can we speak of ghosts, without transforming the whole world and ourselves, too, into phantoms’? ‘Even if they are no longer, even if they are not yet…’. The SynTalkrs are: Prof. Shormishtha Panja (Shakespeare studies, literature, University of Delhi, New Delhi), & Dr. Suvadip Sinha (philosophy, cultural studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities).

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TGAP show.

Prof. Shormishtha Panja (Shakespeare studies, literature) is Professor of English and Joint Director, Institute of Lifelong Learning (ILL), Delhi University. She received her B.A in English (Honours) from Presidency College and her Ph.D. from Brown University where she was awarded the Jean Starr Untermeyer Fellowship. She has taught at Stanford University and IIT Delhi. Her areas of interest are Shakespeare studies, Renaissance studies, visual culture and gender studies. Her seven books include ‘Shakespeare and the Art of Lying’ (ed.) (Orient BlackSwan), ‘Shakespeare and Class’ (co-ed.) (Pearson), ‘Word Image Text: Studies in Literary and Visual Culture’ (co-ed.) (Orient BlackSwan) and ‘Signifying the Self: Women and Literature’ (co-ed.) (Macmillan). She has published more than twenty-eight articles in the international journals English Literary Renaissance, Journal of Narrative Technique and Shakespearean International Yearbook besides several essays in Renaissance collections published by Ashgate. She has been invited to contribute to the Greenwood Shakespeare Encyclopaedia and the Routledge Handbook of Asian Theatre. She has been a Fellow at the Salzburg Seminar, a Visiting Professor at the IIAS, Shimla, and has been awarded a Fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, USA as well as a Huntington Fellowship in San Marino, USA. She has also been Head, Department of English and Dean, Faculty of Arts, Delhi University and President, Shakespeare Society of India (2008 – 2014). She is a member of the Steering Committee of the international group of Early Modern scholars, Theater Without Border and is also the founder member of PEHEL (Delhi University Women’s Support Group).

Dr. Suvadip Sinha (philosophy, cultural studies)  teaches at the Department of Asian Language and Literatures, University of Minnesota at Twin Cities. He is interested in the philosophy of nonhuman. His other areas of research are Indian Cinema, Modern South Asian Literature and Culture Global Modernities. In his scholarly work he questions the limit of life. This takes him on various trajectories. Dr. Sinha studies the philosophical discussions about things, specters and animality mainly in the area of Continental thought. In one of his research project, titled ‘Spectral Intimacy’, he studied the evolution of ghost, spectral, uncanny as an ethical, political category in South Asian cultural texts. By studying literary texts, films and television series, produced from 1880s till post-globalization India, this project is an attempt to understand how the figure of the specter has haunted the South Asian imagination at various historical junctures. His research articles have appeared and are forthcoming in journals such as Topia, Journal of South Asian Popular Culture, South Asian Film and Media and Interventions. He holds MA and MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He received his Ph.D. in 2011 from Western University (Canada), for his thesis on material culture and modernity in Indian cinema. He has been awarded the University of Minnesota Imagine Fund Award this year (2015).

ŸNote: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.