Do 07 Mai 2015 – Fr 08 Mai 2015

Expressing the Ineffable in South Asian Literary Traditions

Joydeep Bagchee, Lewis Doney, Hajnalka Kovacs (Zukunftsphilologie Fellows 2014-2015)

Freie Universität Berlin, Raum L116, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

What does it mean to express the inexpressible? Is it possible to talk about what is beyond words? When do we accurately give voice to an emotion or how does one depict the numinous? Many seminal works of literature grapple with these issues or incorporate concepts of the ineffable into their narrative frames, explicit arguments or use of metaphor. The philological work carried out on these texts presupposes notions of the transcendent that may be shared with the works studied, or differ substantially in their worldview. Even within a single tradition, seismic shifts in practice, socio-political conditions or literary style can radically alter how texts from that tradition are read. Furthermore, in European scholarship say, the underlying presuppositions concerning the world and its transcendence affect the scholarly distinction between what is real and yet inexpressible and what is merely impossible and falsified, as conveyed in the writing under investigation. In short, changing ideas of the ineffable alter philology, and philological work alters attempts at expressing the ineffable. This workshop will bring together various perspectives to assess the underlying dynamics at work in, and philological issues arising from, various types of language usage and its limitations, as it strains to reach beyond itself.

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