NIHIL ULTRA: Nothing Beyond

The English Academy

Tirthankar Sengupta (Secretary)

"Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become."- C.S. Lewis

In an attempt to augment this reality and to unshackle the creative impulse from the perils of imaginative sterility, the English Academy strives to promote originality of thinking, artistic aspirations, and critical scrutiny pertaining to literature and the arts in all its undertakings. By providing a platform for creative expression as well as initiating literary debates and discussions that resonate with the relevant social milieu, the English Academy represents the spirit of enquiry and endeavour of its students through both its flagship programmes.

 

LITERARIA 2017

The English Academy celebrated Literaria, its annual cultural festival, on October 28, 2017. Countless hours of deliberation, planning, and execution through meetings and sessions on behalf of the Academy members culminated in the grand success of the event which has, over the years, become inextricably interlinked with English department.

A total of 12 colleges from all over Kolkata participated in Literaria 2017 while the online events also featured outstation institutions including the likes of Christ University, Bangalore; Symbiosis College, Pune; Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi; among others. Mahabir Jewellers and Koshe Kosha were the leading sponsors for the day long extravaganza, which was based on the concept of horror, aptly summed up in the tagline- "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes…" The Fr. Depelchin Auditorium, the venue for the onstage events of Literaria, was appropriately decked out to evoke a sense of palpable spookiness in keeping with the theme.

The proceedings got underway with the welcome address by Dr. Chandrani Biswas, Deputy President of the English Academy, and the secretarial speech by Anushua Banerjee, before the inauguration ceremony officially kicked off Literaria 2017. A musical medley followed shortly after providing a wonderfully aesthetic prelude to the main events. As always, Literaria comprised a catalogue of intriguing contests that focused not only on the creativity of the participants, but also on their ability to display other essential facets like logical thinking, communicative prowess, and collective coordination. "Frisson" or JAM gave competitors the scope to dazzle the audience with their speaking skills whereas "Poe-sy" saw aspiring poets recite captivating pieces in a bid to outshine one another. Students were well and truly "dressed to kill" as part of "Cosplay" where they came up with interesting approximations of renowned literary characters. The infamous Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter was a popular choice among the performers, some of whom depicted other unforgettable characters like the protagonists of Twilight, and Heath Ledger's signature avatar, the Joker. "The Usual Suspects" put to test the puzzle solving skills of budding "detectives" as they racked their brains to identify stellar names like Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple from a list of perplexing clues besides engaging in other similarly challenging riddles. Team work was the order of the day for "Taboo" where teammates had to exercise their communication capabilities to the core, as well as the literary quiz or "Brain Brew", which was masterfully divided into a series of diverse rounds dealing with multiple aspects of literature and popular culture. A fitting finale to Literaria came in the form of a riveting play called "Post-Mortem", an in-house production that portrayed the evils and disillusionment associated with modern society by resorting to clever satire and ironic humour.

In tandem with the onstage competitions, several offstage events were also on offer at the Rohinton Kapadia Hall for students to hone their artistic skills. "Inkarnate" or Creative Writing provided talented writers the chance to wield their wizardry with words in one of three categories- poetry, fiction, or micro fiction; "Fade Out", also known as Black-out Poetry, portrayed how less is more by asking participants to compose their verses from a limited assortment of words; precision and innovation were the keys in book cover designing, which rounded off the set of offstage interactions. The online events for Literaria also involved a plethora of fun challenges such as meme-making, comic strip making, short film making, photography, and doodling. Former students and professors, both internal and external, helped out with the judgement and evaluation of all the competitive events.

As far as the results were concerned, it was the hosts who came out on top by virtue of securing top honours in multiple events to emerge as the overall winners. Jadavpur University and Loreto College also performed commendably claiming numerous laurels in the process. Following the prize distribution ceremony, an emotional and heartfelt vote of thanks from Sambit Ganguly, Assistant Secretary of the English Academy, concluded the festival and brought the curtain down on yet another fascinating instalment of Literaria.

 

ODE TO EXPRESSIONS 2018

On March 26, 2018, the English Academy launched the eighth edition of its annual magazine Ode to Expressions at the Rohinton Kapadia Hall under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Chandrani Biswas and Prof. Partho Mukherji. The student editorial team that helped put the magazine together comprised Sayona Bose, Sayantani Mukhopadhyay, Arundhati Das, Sambit Ganguly, Vishwajeet Gain, and Priyam Marik. The event was graced by Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, S.J., Principal, St. Xavier's College (Autonomous), Prof. Bertram Da Silva, Vice Principal (Arts and Science), Dr. Tapati Dutta, Dean of Science, Dr. Argha Banerjee, Dean of Arts, as well as the other professors of the Department of English. The occasion commenced with the inaugural address by Father Principal in which he underlined the importance of cultivating and enriching one's language besides focusing on the imperative role of a magazine as an instrument of literary and artistic expression.

The day also featured a series of paper presentations ranging across a wide spectrum of topics. While Soumyadeep Saha shed light on the American Dream in the context of literature, Trinetra Paul traced the recent developments in Japanese poetry, and Sinchan Chatterjee made a comparative analysis between Satan in John Milton's Paradise Lost and the Joker in Christopher Nolan's Batman. Following the presentations was a set of elocutionary performances involving some powerful pieces by Arundhati Das, Sayantani Mukhopadhyay, and Upasya Bhowal, among others. The day was capped off by a short but gripping play which dealt with some pertinent questions surrounding the role and position of females in a patriarchal society.

In an age where humans are becoming increasingly robotic in their pursuit of ephemeral possessions, occasions like Literaria and Ode to Expressions serve as a much needed respite from the monotonously mechanising tendencies of contemporary life. These flagship programmes of the English Academy, which serve as an annual celebration of the sublimated essence of the English department, could never have come to fruition without the unceasing motivation and tireless industry of Dr. Chandrani Biswas (Deputy President of The English Academy), the other departmental professors as well as the student members of the Academy. From providing young enterprising minds the perfect platform to showcase their artistry to serving as a timely reminder of the invaluable assets of literature, the past year saw an enriching confluence of talent and opportunity as the English Academy took another pivotal and memorable step in its quest for attaining still greater heights.