31 May 2022, 1pm UTC, Laetitia Zecchini at UCL: "“‘editorial policy / open as hell’: The dissent and worldliness of Indian little magazines”

Pragya Dhital's picture

Full details (bookings and venue address) at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/institute-of-advanced-studies/events/2022/may/editorial-policy-open-...

This presentation will be based on a wealth of visual documents and focus on several anti-establishment Indian little magazines, especially Vrishchik (1969-73), damn you (1965-1968), ezra (1967-1971), Contra 66 (1966-1967), and Waste Paper, with Bombay as one of its focal points. In these alternative publishing spaces many writers exercised and found their creative and critical voices, connected with each other and with the world outside; and honed a radicalism that was often inseparably aesthetical and political. Because this period was characterized by creative traffics across languages, genres, and media, I argue for a connected history of the Indian little magazines published in English, with those published in other languages; for a connected history of literature, and in particular poetry, with other art forms, and for a connected history of Indian littles with a transnational network of ‘small publications’ and with an international counter-culture. In different ways, these magazines can be read as space-clearing, emancipatory gestures. How was the medium of the magazine (and its littleness) integral to its agenda? By what means could some of these magazines travel the world and what kind of communities, fraternities or ‘conspiracies’ did they contribute to create? Since these little magazines have been interpreted as embodying ‘the spirit of rebellion and experimentation’ (Vilas Sarang) of a whole generation of writers and artists, what were the different modalities of this rebellion? What kind of ‘literary activism’ — both understood as activism on behalf of, and through literature — did they embody, and how were they connected to the ‘street-fighting years’ (Tariq Ali) of the time?


Laetitia Zecchini is a tenured research fellow at the CNRS (Paris) and a Visiting Research Fellow at Boston University. Her research interests focus on contemporary Indian poetry, on postcolonial modernisms and print cultures, and on the politics of literature.

She is the author of a monograph on the poet Arun Kolatkar (Arun Kolatkar and Literary Modernism in India, Moving Lines, Bloomsbury, 2014) whom she has also translated into French for Gallimard, and is the co-author or co-editor of 9 other books and special issues, including “The Worlds of Bombay Poetry” (Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 2017, with Anjali Nerlekar); “The Locations of (World) Literature: Perspectives from Africa and South Asia” (Journal of World Literature, 2019, with Francesca Orsini); and The Form of Ideology and the Ideology of Form: Cold War, Decolonization and Third World Print Cultures (Open Book Publishers, 2022, with Neelam Srivastava and Francesca Orsini).

Many of the publications Dr Zecchini will discuss are on display at an exhibition in SOAS art gallery, which runs from 28 April – 3 September 2022: Crafting Subversion: DIY and Decolonial Print