IGNOU BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment 2021-22- Helpfirst

BEGC 106

Popular Literature

BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment July 2021 & Jan 2022

Section A

Q 1. Write short notes

(i) Culture.

Ans. Culture:

Culture is a term that has been under scrutiny for a long time. Operating simultaneously along several competing axes of meaning, one needs to pay close attention to the context in which it is used to determine its several possible meanings.

Each age has witnessed a troubled and problematic understanding of the notion of culture. Raymond Williams describes culture as “one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language.”

Thus, it will be useful to trace the evolution of the notion of culture chronologically.

Tracing the word back to its Latin roots, we find that the word ‘culture’ is culture, from the root collar, which has a range of meanings: inhabit, cultivate, protect, honor with worship.

The primary meaning then was in husbandry, the tending of natural growth.

For a long time, ‘culture’ was thus, used as a ‘noun of process’ to refer to the tending, growth, or cultivation of something, usually, crops or animals.

In the 16th century ‘culture’ referred to the growth or cultivation of human attributes. By the lath century, it functioned, as a synonym for Enlightenment’s concept of civilization.

During the Enlightenment, the only form of culture that was sanctified was the official, elite culture of European societies. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

In the 19th century, however, the meanings of the term ‘culture’ expandedand began to be differentiated from that of ‘civilization

(ii) Popular Culture and America.

Ans: Popular Culture and America

For critics working within the mass culture paradigm, mass culture is, in a clear identifiable sense, imported American culture. If Popular Culture in its modern form was invented in any one place, it was in the great cities of the United States, and above all in New York.

The claim that Popular Culture is American culture has a long history within the theoretical mapping of Popular Culture.

It operates under the term ‘Americanization’. Its central theme is that British culture has declined under the homogenizing influence of American culture.

True, because Popular Culture, as a pervasive phenomenon, hit the Americans as early as the 1920s. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Later in the 1940s, the Bowling Green University critics like, Ray B Browne, Bruce Ludke, Marshall Fishwick, John Cawelti, C W E Bigsby, etc. were the first to voice out their concern for this culture, eulogized by the masses.

According to them, the ever-expanding consciousness of Popular Culture doesn’t polarise cultures and dilutes, destroys, or reduces them to the lowest common denominator.

Talking of American culture, Fiedler says that the culture of the United States has always been “popular’ beneath a ‘thin overlay of imported European elitism”.

He further says that “Our national mythos is a pop myth and our revolution consequently a pop revolution, when Europeans or other non-American cultures talk of the incursion in their culture of pop forms like rock, country, and western music, comic books, soap operas and cop shows on television, they tend to refer to it as a “creeping Americanization” of their cultures and is used as a synonym for “vulgarization”.

BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment
BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

(iii) Crime Fiction.

Ans:Crime Fiction: Can we define crime fiction as a narrative about crime dealing with the origin, nature, and the social/psychological resolution of the crime? Can all fiction that includes murder or robbery or incest or rape or other social crimes and the consequence of these crimes constitute crime fiction?

Can, as Charles J Rzepka posits, Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles or Matthew Lewis’s gothic novel The Monk or Shakespeare’s Othello or Macbeth be classified as crime fiction? BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

All these works have their main characters committing murder, being tried and punished for it and yet, these works have not been classified as crime/ mystery/ detective fiction.

So, what constitutes the nature of the crime that can qualify as crime narratives? Crime fiction or even detective narratives demand a special sense of aesthetic and cultural lens to comprehend its political and mass appeal.

Throughout the 18th and till the mid-19th century, numerous broadsides, court proceedings, testimonies and confessions of criminals, and printed ballads related to the crimes and activities of criminal behaviour were hugely popular.

In the 21st century, even with the rise of all kinds of digital simulations, the popularity of crime narratives refuses to abate.

What makes crime narratives so hugely popular? Do the early crime writings and the later crime fictions develop and elaborate on the same themes? What led to the rise of crime fictions as a separate cultural category? BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

(iv) Mah Jong

Ans. Mah Jong:– Somewhere in between the narrative, Christie inserts a game party involving a game of Mah-Jong that Dr Sheppard plays with his sister Caroline, Colonel Carter and Miss Gannett.

Mah-Jong is an exotic Chinese game that was popular in the cold war era and was played in clubs during Christie’s time.

Ostensibly a tile game, Mah-jong is a variation of the card game rummy that requires a player to outwit his opponents to stack tiles in a particular arrangement. The game calls for powers of concealment and an observant eye.

However, the game party hosted at Sheppard’s house becomes much more than a mere game.

It provides a meeting ground for the inhabitants and gives a glimpse of the society whose chief preoccupation is gossip: “our hobbies and recreations can be summed up in one word, gossip”. The game gives a veritable picture of the inhabitants of King’s Abbot with their penchant for gossip where they air and exchange their views.

The game of Mah-jong can be read symbolically. It is similar to the murder mystery where players are suspects in the murder game who try to hide their cards.

As in the card game, all the concealments in the murder mystery eventually come to light. This analogy/parallel between the game and the murder mystery also gives an insight into Sheppard’s mind by the very way he plays the game.

Sheppard remains quiet throughout the game/narrative and reveals nothing of his thoughts while faithfully shedding light on everyone else. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

As the players gossip to entertain and outwit one another, Sheppard deftly hides his hand all along and cleverly practices the art of concealment.

BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment
BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Section B

Q 1. Comment on the various genres of Popular Literature.

Ans: Various genres of Popular Literature:-

One of the earliest genres that were relegated to the domain of popular literature was the Romance. Kitchen maid romances are often written by women who were not considered serious enough.

The other prevalent romantic story narrated the difficulties faced by two young people engaged in forbidden love.

The second genre that found much favour with the populace was fantasy. Children’s Literature, the most famous story being Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is also considered as a representative fantasy, the other being science fiction.

Issac Asimov remains the master storyteller of these stories of scientific adventures and make-believe kingdoms. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

In America, it was the cowboy cult stories, the Westerns, set in the frontier which were hugely popular with the masses. These were tales of travel, power, male valour and discovery.

Their rise in the late 19th century coalesced with the popularity of murder/ crime stories or mysteries and spy fiction.

With a detective in the centre, mysteries created world-famous characters such as Auguste Dupin by Edgar Allan Poe and Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Yet, it is Agatha Christie who continues to remain the queen of crime till today. In India, Satyajit Ray created his magic with the Feluda stories.

Spy Fiction as a genre was born with Fennimore Cooper but further became popular with the creation of the figure of James Bond by Ian Fleming in the mid 20th century.

In recent times, popular literature has embraced a variety of interesting new forms of writing such as comic books, cartoon strips, terribly tiny tales, graphic novels etc which feed on mythology, folk legends, fables and myths of the time.

In the forthcoming units, you shall be reading about them in much greater detail and through several examples. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Q 2. What is a literary canon?

Ans. Literary canon:-In literature, the canon is the collection of works considered representative of a period or genre.

The writings of famous writers such as William Shakespeare or Chaucer are, for instance, a part of the Western canon, and classical Indian writers such as Kalidasa and Surdas are a constituent of the Indian canon as their writing and style have impacted the writings of many in all genres.

A literary canon stands the test of time. The writers and their writings have universal appeal, having a universality of theme and enter a certain hall of fame.

In Indian literature, Sanskrit texts were often and always part of its literary canon. The Katha and the folk traditions were for a very long time never a part of the canon.

Recently, there has been a rethinking and several texts have shifted and moved. The entire idea of a fixed literary canon has been questioned. Shakespeare has been adapted to films by writers and filmmakers of many countries. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

In India, Vishal Bharadwaj has adapted Shakespeare’s canonical plays, Othello, Hamlet and Macbeth, into films such as “Omkara”, “Haider” and “Maqbool”.

This is just an example to demonstrate that cinema and media have also played an important role in the new idea of the literary canon.

But we shall be reading more about this in Block 4 where we look at Vishal Bhardwaj’s The Blue Umbrella a cinematic adaptation of Ruskin Bond’s novella of the same name.

As stated earlier, the accepted body of work that comprises the canon of Western literature has evolved and changed over the years.

For centuries, it was populated primarily by white men and was not representative of Western culture as a whole. Over time, some works became less pertinent in the canon and were replaced by more modern counterparts.

For example, contemporary writers such as Rabindranath Tagore of the Gitanjali fame, Pablo Neruda, Raja Rao the author of Kanthapura, Patrick White, James Baldwin, The Native Son Edward Braithwaite, Chinua Achebe, most well known for Things Fall Apart,

Scott Mommaday, Amy Tan, and Sherman Alexie are all representatives of the entire subgenres of Native American, Australian, African, Indian and African-American styles of writing. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Q 3. Do you think that mass media and technology have a role to play in extending the understanding of the canon?

Ans. Role of mass media and technology to play in extending the understanding of the canon:-

It is with the birth of the representation of literature on celluloid that a unique relationship between literature and cinema was established and its strong bond is visible even today.

The German school of critics as was mentioned earlier in The Culture Industry wrote on the 1930s booming Hollywood films euphoria.

These critics were concerned with the fact that the common man was mixing up real life with reel life.

Cinema, as one of the dominant technologically progressive modes of cultural transmission, has positioned itself as integral to the development of the ‘cult of the pop’ in modern societies.

As a mass public culture, art practice, vehicle of propaganda and adaptations, cinema creates an extended narrative text for literature.

Thus, questions like what happens to literature in cinema and can pedagogy remain unaffected by its representations in cinema gains greater relevance now.

In the last two decades, a paradigm shift has taken place, whereby a text has been placed against various production apparatus cinema, stage, television, comic books, etc.

If literature has to fulfil its roles and purposes and be a communicative practice, the analysis of popular narrative can provide a crucial link between the literature and the study of other modes of representations. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

In the next section, we shall examine popular Indian English Fiction.

In literature, the canon is the collection of works considered representative of a period or genre.

The writings of famous writers such as William Shakespeare or Chaucer are, for instance, a part of the Western canon, and classical Indian writers such as Kalidasa and Surdas are a constituent of the Indian canon as their writing and style have impacted the writings of many in all genres.

A literary canon stands the test of time. The writers and their writings have universal appeal, having a universality of theme and enter a certain hall of fame.

In Indian literature, Sanskrit texts were often and always part of its literary canon. The Katha and the folk traditions were for a very long time never a part of the canon.

Q 4. Discuss the chess motif in Through the Looking Glass.

Ans: Chess motif in Through the Looking Glass:-

The entire book is structured in the form of a chess game. Conventionally, chess is taken to be a game for adults since it involves certain well-defined rules and thought-out irreversible moves. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Learning chess is an important stage in maturation since it is based on unchanging moves. The use of chess as a motif is also reminiscent of the fact that Carroll taught chess to the Liddell sisters and even invented the traveller’s chess.

The chess motif that runs throughout the text becomes a key to the narrative. The game represents a map for the entire book and can be read at multiple levels: at the physical level, at the metaphysical level, and, at the dream world level of the looking glass.

Ostensibly, the world of the looking glass is laid out in the form of a chess game, where the land itself is in the form of a giant chessboard with rows separated from each other and divided by brooks and hedges.

It is here that Alice finds herself a chess piece a white pawn herself a part of the bigger chess game that Carroll is playing by constructing the narrative.

While in the middle ages chess was played on enormous fields with human beings as chess pieces, Carroll borrows from this idea and presents it as a laid-out path for Alice to move on.

Given that it is a fantasy narrative, the text-only loosely subscribes to the rules of the game of chess.

The kings remain fixed and dormant while the two queens move/scurry about. Alice is a mere pawn who progresses from square to square before she reaches the last square and becomes a queen. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

The game of chess is conflated with fantasy and produces a nonsensical narrative.

At the physical level, chess becomes a symbol of Alice’s journey through life where she begins as a young white pawn and eventually becomes a queen.

Her unidirectional progress on the chessboard and its linearity present her ageing and maturation where she has to leave behind her childhood and emerge as a woman.

This development fits in with the actual rules of the game of chess, where, upon successfully reaching the last row of the chessboard, a pawn may become any piece the player desires.

As mentioned earlier, the game of Chess represents Alice’s journey to maturation.

BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment
BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Section C

Q 1. Write an essay discussing important issues in popular literature.

Ans:Important issues in popular literature:

The following are some important issues of study in popular literature –
Popular Literature as part of an Entertainment Industry: Popular literature has always been understood as part of the larger entertainment industry which exists in the form of the marketplace regulated by forces of demand and supply.

Works of popular fiction are often classified as ‘bestsellers’ and critics have repeatedly argued that their aesthetics are governed by commercial forces.

Dominic Strinati, a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Leicester and the author of An Introduction to Studying Popular Culture, says that industrialisation and commercialisation have had significant influence over works of popular culture.

This makes us wonder if the criteria of profitability and marketability take precedence over “quality, artistry, integrity and intellectual challenge”.

This debate shaped one of the most important critical conceptions of popular literature as a part of a”culture industry”. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Popular Literature as Genre Fiction:

Genre fiction refers to works of literature written with the intent of conforming to the norms of a particular kind of writing. Such works place more emphasis on following the traditions of a particular genre.

Science fiction, detective thrillers and romance novels are often considered prime examples of genre fiction.

Ken Gelder, a Professor of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne, who has also been a visiting fellow at University College and King’s College in London, and the University of Edinburgh,

classifies popular fiction as genre fiction and says that generic identities “determine not just what is inside the actual novel, but who published it, how and through what ventures it is marketed, who consumes and evaluates it and how this is done”.

This over determination by the traditional markers of the genre have also led to the labelling of popular literature as ‘formulaic’ i.e. the idea that all popular fiction follows the same old, repetitive narrative logic and lacks any creative vigour or originality.

Rooted in Time and Place: BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

The idea of the popular is very firmly rooted in a particular spatial and temporal realm. What counts as popular today might not have the same valence a few decades from now.

Similarly, what is popular in a particular culture or community might not translate well to other cultures. Critics have often argued that popular fiction lacks longevity i.e. it does not survive the test of time.

As opposed to this, a classical or a canonical text “transcends time and space and gives new meaning to a new generation of readers”.

This distinction between popular and canonical has occupied a central position in all critical discussions of this form of cultural production.

Instead of seeing popular literature’s lack of longevity as a weakness, certain critics now understand it as its strength.

Since these texts are rooted in a particular time and space, they can capture a society’s socio-cultural anxieties or as Clive Bloom, an Emeritus Professor at Middlesex University, UK, who writes on popular literature, gothic fiction, history and politics, and is a broadcaster as well as an occasional journalist, puts it, they become “the barometer of contemporary imagination”.

The audience/ the readership too play a huge role in determining the popularity of a text.

Role of Audience/Readership: BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Popular fiction is marked by a significant involvement of readers not simply as consumers but also as producers and creators.

The creation of fandom or groups of fans who are devoted consumers of certain genres or authors leads to certain important changes in the production and distribution of popular literature.

As Ken Gelder writes, “popular fiction has fans -readerships which live through their genres, inhabiting them and claiming them,”.

This aspect shapes our understanding of this literature as a mass-mediated form, one which is equally influenced by the forces of the market and the demands of their devoted fandoms.

Q 2.Would it be correct to say that Ruskin Bond and Vishal Bhardwaj’s The Blue Umbrella is a children’s story for adults. Do you agree?

Ans: The Blue Umbrella:-The Blue Umbrella is intended for both children and adults or as Bhardwaj pointed out, “a children’s film for adults.” Like children’s narratives, it does convey something but does it in a nuanced and complex manner which would be appreciated by adults.

It concentrates on the world of Binya and other children but it shows the thin line of difference separating children from adults. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

This is children’s fiction. It has a simple story about a girl name Binny and her love of a blue silk umbrella which she spots and obtains from some picnickers in exchange for a necklace that had a leopard’s claw which was considered as good luck.

The adults of the village are jealous of her. Children adore and appreciate her umbrella and she gives it to them to hold.

The story describes, how happy Binny is with her umbrella which she never closes.

Ram Bharosa owns a shop in Binny’s village and out of intense longing and jealousy of obtaining her umbrella, sets up a boy named Rajaram, then working in his shop to obtain the umbrella from Binny.

He offers to pay three rupees to Rajaram for successfully carrying out the act.

However, after stealing the umbrella Binny spots Rajaram with it and chases him and is further helped by her brother Bijju, who puts up a fight with Rajaram and the umbrella is restored to Binny. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Ram Bharosa lives in utter disgrace for two weeks, since the people of the village have abandoned him and nobody in the village trusts him anymore.

Binny feels sorry for Ram Bharosa because somehow she feels that his state is on account of her longing for that umbrella.

Out of the greatness of her soul, she visits his shops leaves him the umbrella. He then flaunts it to villagers and this time there is no guilt as he was gifted by Binny.

On the other hand, Ram Bharosa obtains a bear claw which is even considered luckier than a leopard’s. He makes a pendant out of it with a silver chain and gifts it to Binny. In the end, both are happy and their conscience is free from any guilt.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s adaptation of Ruskin Bond’s novella that won the National Film Award for Best Children’s Film is set in a village in Chamba and takes ninety minutes to unravel.

Khaled Mohamed sees the film within the tradition of Iranian cinema, for instance, films like Children of Heaven and Where is My Friend’s Home, which takes micro issues (like a child losing a pair of shoes) and turns them into social commentary.

It begins with an extreme wide shot followed by the camera panning to show snow-covered mountains, snowfall and in the middle of it all, a little girl whose face is hidden by a blue umbrella. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Through a wide shot, we move closer to the girl and see her through a leafless tree, while she is twirling her umbrella. In a scene that is covered with white, the colour of snow, the little girl is a blast of colours.

In the next scene, we see the Khatri tea stall where Nand Kishore is listening to a self-help lecture about becoming a millionaire like Bill Gates.

Nandu mistakenly thinks that Bill Gates is close to India Gate. He and his companion are simple enough to believe that nobody will lie in English – the language they are in awe of and cannot speak.

Pankaj Kapur, who plays Nandu gives him gestures like stroking and shaking his
head, enjoying his pickle and speaking a Himachali dialect.

The blue umbrella is shown in the film from Binya’s perspective. We see her looking at something -the shaky camera shows her surprise and befuddlement and then focuses on the beautiful object of her attention.

Through close-ups, we see the umbrella in all its glory. The visual medium lends a certain tangibility and verisimilitude to the blue umbrella.

When Binya touches the umbrella, the audience experiences a sensation similar to hers. It is a child’s delight at discovering a beautiful object.

In another song, it is described as “Ambar ka tukdatoda/lakdi ka hattajoda/haath main apne aasman hai”. It is a group of Japanese tourists who replace the Indian holidaymakers of the novella. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Bhardwaj refrains from making the comparison between city dwellers and village folk that Ruskin Bond hints at.

A film which is made for primarily an Indian audience refuses to offer a scathing criticism of fellow Indians that Bond offers, by laying the blame at the door of foreign tourists.

The film uses many binocular POVS, where either Ram Bharosa or Nandu use Tikku’s binoculars to look at Binya and her umbrella.

Bhardwaj indicates the way Nandu has managed to acquire the binoculars, and that is how he would attempt to procure the umbrella as well.

Through a wide shot, we see how he makes the bus stop in the middle of the road when he sees Binya with her umbrella under a waterfall.

He offers her fifty rupees and a bunch of balloons.

The shot where she goes away with her umbrella, we see a wide shot with Nandu letting go of the balloons in his disappointment, with just the sound of the waterfall in the background, is visually and emotionally one of the most moving scenes in the film which make the audience pity and empathise with this old man and his inexplicable desire for the blue umbrella. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Bhardwaj probably changed the name of the character to make it rhyme with chhatri as Nandu says, “Kuch pich le Janam ka Rishta hai chhatri or Khatri ka”.

The montage that depicts Binya’s battle with a venomous snake indicates how Bhardwaj is urging his audience to see her as Rani of Jhansi – a fierce, formidable warrior who is often set as an example to be emulated by young girls.

There are mythological analogies as well, for instance, the sight of an effigy of Ravana reminds her of Khatri and makes Binya suspect him of stealing her umbrella.

She gets his tea shop inspected by a local police officer. In this scene, the sympathy of the audience is with Nandu who is falsely accused of stealing an umbrella.

He takes a pledge that he would not touch the pickle till the time he receives his umbrella.

When he finally receives it, there is a repetition of the scenes of joy and celebration that we witnessed when Binya found the blue umbrella, the only difference being that it is Nandu who becomes the centre of this delight and awe.

Binya launches her investigation and discovers how her umbrella was stolen and dyed red.

It is an instance of tragic irony that the moment when Nandu is talking of his struggles, the umbrella loses its acquired colour in the rain. He is banished from the village and turned into a pariah. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Q 3. Trace the development of children’s literature.

Ans: Development of children’s literature:-

Children’s Literature began with oral storytelling being passed down from one generation to another.

For instance, if we look at the Indian context the Sanskrit fable Panchatantra is said to have been composed around 200 BC, while Aesop’s Fables are believed to have been composed between 620 and 564 BC, and the Irish Folktales were composed around 400 BC.

Globally, folk tales and fables were used as a means to instruct and were oral in tradition. And because we have read Aesop’s fables/ the Panchatantra as children, it highlights the fact that children’s literature to a large extent especially in the initial stages was didactic.

In the Far East, the art of storytelling in China was at its height during the time of the Song dynasty and was once again didactic and meant to instruct children.

In medieval Europe, there was little by way of the entertainment factor in children’s literature. In the early 15th Century, textbooks and prayer books began to emerge that could be said to have been meant for children.

A distinction between adult literature or writing for adults and writing for children was never made.

It was a world where it was an unknown for adults to be writing for children – an unheard of and unthought of thing. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Hence, no real distinctions were made between the two readerships. Needless to say, the earliest books written for children were Biblical tales and possibly folk tales and fairy tales.

Children’s Literature in the 16th and 17th Centuries:

It was only in the 16th Century that alphabet books began to emerge from countries like Russia, Italy, and Denmark.

Thereafter, illustrated chapbooks came into existence and these chap-books dealt with folk tales, legends or Biblical stories and were meant primarily for children.

It also needs to be remembered that for the longest time, children were not thought to be distinct from adults, they were considered to be miniature adults during the Puritan Age.

During those days, children as young as six years old were often apprenticed to artisans as the society and the economy of the day was labour intensive.

However, towards the end of the middle ages, there was a change in society and academic skills became more important than physical labour. This led to a shift in the thinking of children as miniature adults.

Children and the thinking that went behind raising children now was that children were children and needed to be educated, thereby bringing in the concept of child development and child psychology and eventually children’s literature.

Children’s Literature in the 18th & 19th centuries:

In the 1720s and 30s, a group of London publishers began publishing books for the entertainment of young readers. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Thomas Boreman the publisher was one of the earliest to dabble with writing for children. His Description of Three Hundred Animals: an illustrated history of London landmarks known as the Gigantic Histories were two such books published.

Mary Cooper, another publisher of the times is well known for her contribution to nursery rhymes. Her Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book Volumes I & Il are the first known nursery rhyme collections.

Her collection has early versions of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and “Hickory Dickory Dock’, “London Bridge is falling down”, and “Sing a Song of Sixpence”.

However, the first real children’s book is said to be A Little Pretty Pocket-Book written in 1744 by John Newbery.

This book has the distinction of being written purely for the entertainment of children so in that sense a real children’s book.

This was a book of simple rhymes with illustrations, focused on a letter of the alphabet.

The innovative manner in which Newbery designed the book, teaching alphabets with rhymes and pictures is considered to be critical in the development of the genre of children’s literature that he came to be known as the father of Children’s Literature.

However, we might want to note that even though Newbery made these innovations, his was still an infotainment book but yes, we need to acknowledge that he designed it primarily for children. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Just to remind ourselves of the importance of Newbery to Children’s Literature, as we shall read later in the unit, an award has been instituted in his name the Newbery Medal, presented each year to an outstanding work of American literature for children.

Newbery also developed the first children’s periodical, called “The Lilliputian Magazine”, a miscellany of stories, verse, riddles and chatty editorials.

His most famous work is, The History of Little Goody TwoShoes believed to be the first children’s novel.

This novel tells the story of a poor orphan Margery, who becomes a teacher, marries a local landowner who is impressed by her honesty, hard work and good sense, needless to point out – it was a didactic novel.

Children’s Literature in the 20th & 21st Centuries: Children’s literature thereby became more and more popular through the ages till finally in the first two decades of the 20th Century, colour illustrated books began to be mass-produced.

By then literacy had also gained prominence and children’s literature was here to stay. Some of the early examples are:

This brief history has given us a glimpse of how changes in society and economy, as well as thinking, led to changes in the manner in which books were written.

The 20th century saw two World Wars. Children’s books written between these two world wars dealt with themes related to ideals: the spirit of pioneers: and a good example of this spirit of the pioneers is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series based on her childhood and teenage years in the American Midwest.BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

The first of the books Little House in the Big Woods was published in 1932. It was later adapted to television by the name of Little House in the Prairies.

Apart from these themes, books for little children such as those written by Margaret Wise Brown, were still hugely popular as were Lois Lenski’s stories such as Strawberry Girl.

Q 4. Examine the theme of gender and space in Shyam Selvudurai’s Funny Boy.

Ans: Theme of gender and space in Shyam Selvudurai’s Funny Boy:– In Funny Boy, Selvadurai attempts to uncover the many social gender constructs that govern the private and public lives of individuals.

It looks at how masculinity and femininity are defined in a social matrix and how these norms influence the identity and experiences of a wide spectrum of characters.

Gender and Space: Home

In the first section titled “Pigs Can’t Fly”, the young protagonist Arjie is forced to confront social gender stereotypes. His parents have joined their extended family for a monthly reunion at his grandparents’ house.

On these occasions, all his cousins would get together and play two games – the boys usually played cricket in the field outside the house while the girls played ‘Bride-Bride’, a game where they enacted the many ceremonies associated with a wedding.

As the narrator tells us, “Territorially, the area around my grandparents’ house was divided into two. The front garden, the road and the field that lay in front of the house belonged to the boys”. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

As opposed to this, the second territory of the girls was “confined to the back garden and the kitchen porch”. Already, one can see gender-based spatial segregation at work.

There are specific sections of the house designated for activities involving girls and boys. While girls remain within the household and play a typically domestic game, boys venture out and engage in physical activity.

This gendered division of domestic space prefigures a similar phenomenon that takes place at the national level.

In other words, the domestic spatial segregation along gender lines mirrors the national segregation along ethnic lines that will tear apart the narrator’s and his family’s lives.

This draws our attention to how space is divided along with gender and ethnic parameters, both at the microcosmic domestic and the macrocosmic national sphere.

Gayatri Gopinath argues, “the gendered specialization of the domestic sphere in the story mirrors and reiterates nationalist framings of space that posit the ‘inner’ as an atavistic space of spirituality and tradition, embodied by the figure of the ‘woman’, as opposed to the router male sphere of progress, politics, materiality and modernity”.

However, Arjie has managed till now to transcend these boundaries as he has always been the most significant member of the Bride-Bride gang owing to the force of his imagination.

It is the “free play of fantasy” which attracts Arjie to games played by his girl cousins which imitated adult domestic functions or enacted fairy stories. Arjie’s favourite game is called ‘Bride-Bride’ and he derives utmost pleasure from dressing up like a bride.

Unfortunately, though, his happiness is curtailed by the arrival of his cousin Tanuja who is very cross at being made the groom, the person with the least importance in the hierarchy of ‘Bride-Bride’. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

When her desire to play the bride is met with derision from her fellow cousins, she tells her mother who drags a sari-clad Arjie in front of the adults of the house.

This revelation causes a stir in the family and becomes a source of embarrassment for Arjie’s parents as one of his uncle remarks sardonically to his father, “Ey Chelva! Looks like you have a funny one here”.

Gender and Space: School

The other space where Arjie is forced to contend with ethnic and gender divisions is in his new school.

In the section of the novel titled “The Best School of All”, Arjie’s father decides to change his school to Queen Victoria Academy because it will “force him to become a man”.

This educational institution is governed by an ethos of hyper-masculinity and young boys are expected to pattern their behaviour according to dominant masculine stereotypes.

The students refer to each other with their last names and ardent physical punishments are relatively common. Arjie’s elder brother, Diggy, advises him never to complain about the use of strict punishment since, “Once you come to Queen Victoria Academy, you are a man.

Either you take it like a man or the other boys will look down on you”.

It is within this ethos of hyper-masculinity that Arjie meets Soyza and their relationship will play an important role in the journey through which Arjie begins to accept his homosexuality. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Soyza is described as a misfit in the Academy, he is often bullied by his classmates and is deemed an “ills and burden” student by Black Tie, the principal.

There are also rumours about his alleged homosexuality due to which he has become the laughing stock of the whole school.

At the same time, the school is also driven by ethnic and political tensions and anxieties. There are separate sections for Sinhalese and Tamil students and there is an ongoing tussle between the Principal, Mr. Abeysinghe and the Vice-Principal.

Mr. Lokubandara, a “political appointee”. The struggle between them is coloured by the prevailing ethnic conflict and a debate about the future of the academy and by extension, the country.

While Black Tie imagines a modern, multicultural academy where diverse communities will be given equal representation, Lokubandara is a firm believer of the grassroots Sinhala movement i.e. a return to the idea of Sri Lanka as a pure Sinhala nation.

T Jazeel says that “essentially, this is a battle for which type of modernity is best for the Academy, thus linking the school to larger debates about appropriate geopolitical templates for the modern Sri Lanka nation-state”, when he talks about the turf war between Lokubandara and Black Tie aka Mr. Abeysinghe, the principal.

Q 5. Explain the significance of the framed narrative in the Bhimayana.

Ans:Significance of the framed narrative in the Bhimayana:

The framed narrative of Bhimayana serves as a brilliant reminder for the audience to, visualise that even though they are witnessing incidents from the past (incidents of oppression faced by the Dalit community in general and Dr Ambedkar in particular), the present-day experiences of Dalits are strikingly similar.

A counter-narrative against upper caste hegemony, Bhimayana not only delineates the trajectory of historical trauma but also develops an efficient vocabulary of counter – abuse.

The double standards and hypocrisy of the upper castes are laid bare by repeated references to incidents of the rape of Dalit women. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

Section Two of the book titled Shelter opens with an image of an adult Ambedkar wearing a suit and glasses symbolising his encounter with western education and cultural values. While away at Columbia, he had almost forgotten the experience of untouchability.

When he boards a train to Baroda in 1917 to join a government job, he is immediately reminded of his position in the social structure, in a conversation with a fellow brahmin passenger.

He goes to Baroda to join as a Probationer in the Accountant General’s Office but cannot find a place to stay in Baroda.

He cannot find shelter anywhere in Baroda despite repeated efforts. He is forcibly evicted from his temporary stay at a Parsi Inn by an armed mob of Parsis.

None of his friends allows him to stay at his place citing his lower caste status. Helplessly, he decides to return to Bombay on the next train.

With no place to go, he decides to spend the remaining duration of five hours in the Kamathi Baug public garden. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

This series of events comes with a realisation that an untouchable remains untouchable not just for an upper-caste Hindu but also for Parsis, Christians and Muslims.

The framed narrative also refutes a mainstream claim that caste exists only in remote parts of the country. Ambedkar was refused shelter in the city of Baroda despite his academic credentials.

The situation in contemporary Indian cities is hardly any different where one can still find similar incidents of forcible eviction, caste-based slurs, public beating, etc. on almost an everyday basis.

The third book Travel is located in Aurangabad, in 1934. This was the time when Ambedkar was already recognised as an influential leader of the depressed classes.

He was closely attached to the cause of Dalit communities and worked rigorously for the socio-political awakening of this section of society.

Here, the text talks about the rigid structure of chaturvarnashrama within the Hindu fold where a Dalit is looked down upon even by the one doing menial jobs like driving a tonga.

Even the doctors refuse to touch/treat the body of a Dalit patient fearing that the touch might pollute their sense of purity. BEGC 106 Free Solved Assignment

The framed narrative then comes back to the major debates around the contribution of Gandhi and Ambedkar towards establishing the principles of equality in society.

The text foregrounds that Ambedkar remained a lifelong advocate of equality for all sections, to make them independent and be able to fight for their rights.

Gandhi on the other hand was more concerned with the freedom struggle. While the former hoped for the complete annihilation of the caste system to bring all the citizens at par,

the latter promoted only cosmetic changes to the caste system so that untouchables could also be accommodated within the fourfold structure of the Hindu caste system.

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