Fulbright Scholar from India teaching, making connections

Sanjukta DasguptaSanjukta Dasgupta, a Fulbright Scholar in Residence from India, is teaching, sharing knowledge and creating connections at SUNY Oswego this fall.

Through her residency, a joint effort of the college and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (which administers the Fulbright program), Dasgupta teaches “Literature in the Global Context” and “Vision and Textuality.” The latter concerns Indian women in Indian films, both residents and expatriates, and “what are their priorities, perspectives and techniques, and how they are responding to the same historical content” as male filmmakers, she said.

“What has been very exciting to me is the opportunity to interact with students directly in the classroom,” said Dasgupta, a professor at the University of Calcutta and former head of its English department. Many of her visits to other campuses have been more formal, involving presentations at seminars and conferences. “Students have been part of the audience then, but interacting with them has not been as dynamic as teaching courses at SUNY Oswego,” she said.

Dasgupta’s books include “The Novels of Huxley and Hemingway: A Study in Two Planes of Reality,” and poetry compilations such as “Dilemma” and “First Language.”

She edited “Her Stories,” translations of short stories by Bengali women writers, which also features introductions and interviews she conducted with the authors.

“In these stories, I very specifically tried to move away from the helplessness and abject condition of Indian women as represented in previous fiction and tried to bring together in one volume stories that feature Indian women as active agents of social change,” she explained.

She is editor of “Families,” a Fulbright Alumni Initiative project journal launched in 2002. Selections from that journal and additional commissioned work will comprise “Indian Families in Transition: Reading, Literary and Cultural Texts,” a forthcoming book from Sage Publications.

Dasgupta’s semester in Oswego came at the encouragement of a fellow Fulbright Scholar, Geraldine Forbes, distinguished teaching professor in history at Oswego. Forbes, whose specialties include women’s studies in India, first met Dasgupta at a conference in North Carolina and has contributed to the “Families” journal.

“I think she’s an ideal person to come here because she does so many different things,” Forbes said of Dasgupta. “She’s well-versed in American literature as well as Indian women writers.”

Forbes said the timing also works well, given the increasing interest in ties between the United States and India. She noted that SUNY Oswego is offering its first course in Hindi, which filled up quickly, and that the corporate world is trying to strengthen ties with the Asian subcontinent.

Dasgupta also has made connections with the greater community, including giving readings at the River’s End Bookstore and Oswego Art Association gallery in Oswego and speaking at Onondaga Community College.

“I feel that from my interaction and contacts here, we can engage in collaborative work that will enhance cultural understanding and academic participation,” Dasgupta said.

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(Posted: Oct 04, 2006)