Presenter Information

James L. Cooper, SUNY OswegoFollow

Academic Field

English - Literature

Faculty Mentor Name

Karol Cooper

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

The dynamic city of Mysore, India, filled with economic promise despite high levels of poverty, is the setting for Mahesh Rao’s satirical novel, The Smoke is Rising. It portrays the daily lives of three women, Uma, Mala, and Susheela, each from a different social caste. Uma is a young female servant for the wealthy older widow Susheela, and Mala is a middle-aged college graduate, confined to an unhappy marriage with her oppressive, Western-influenced husband, Girish. Many of Mala’s relationships restrict her subjectivity as a middle-class woman within India. This paper explores how the subaltern other struggles to live in harmony with the Western subject that has been established as part of their own consciousness. My paper references sociological studies on life in Mysore, as well as theoretical works by Luce Irigaray, Immanuel Kant and Gayatri Spivak to trace the steps suggested by the novel of the subaltern's path to freedom from Western subjectivity.

Keywords

Mahesh Rao, The Smoke Is Rising, Mysore, subaltern subjectivity, Gayatri Spivak, female psychology, male influence, social slavery, autonomy

Start Date

10-4-2015 9:30 AM

End Date

10-4-2015 11:00 AM

Location

Liberal Arts Bldg 107

Share

COinS
 
Apr 10th, 9:30 AM Apr 10th, 11:00 AM

Subaltern Autonomy and Western Dependence in Mahesh Rao’s The Smoke Is Rising

Liberal Arts Bldg 107

The dynamic city of Mysore, India, filled with economic promise despite high levels of poverty, is the setting for Mahesh Rao’s satirical novel, The Smoke is Rising. It portrays the daily lives of three women, Uma, Mala, and Susheela, each from a different social caste. Uma is a young female servant for the wealthy older widow Susheela, and Mala is a middle-aged college graduate, confined to an unhappy marriage with her oppressive, Western-influenced husband, Girish. Many of Mala’s relationships restrict her subjectivity as a middle-class woman within India. This paper explores how the subaltern other struggles to live in harmony with the Western subject that has been established as part of their own consciousness. My paper references sociological studies on life in Mysore, as well as theoretical works by Luce Irigaray, Immanuel Kant and Gayatri Spivak to trace the steps suggested by the novel of the subaltern's path to freedom from Western subjectivity.