The growth of academic writing in the past decade or so has seen a significant rise in the number of journals and e-journals to meet the demand for publishing space. Much of this demand is the result of the UGC and University promotion rules and quality enhancement initiatives, and the fact that e-journals have opened up a new space for writers to showcase their work. Naturally, the number of articles we receive at Muse India, for this section has also grown steadily; so much so that the ‘waiting period’ for an article to be published is much longer than before, often leading to impatient queries from our contributors, who are, perhaps, under the misconception that being an e-journal, space constraints would not apply to us. One of the occupational hazards of being the poor editor, in such cases, I suppose!
However, this is a welcome development. More people writing about the literature that they are reading (for pleasure or as part of their official duty) has led to an exploration of texts far beyond the straitjacketed and strictly canonised repertoire. In a country like ours where so much literature is being produced in metros, small towns, districts, villages and even beyond, in languages that are mainstream and those which may have just recently developed their own scripts, this vast canvas can only have a most invigorating effect on scholarly and literary activity. There is something that surprises in every issue that we present. In MI 71, we have a scholar from Malaysia, Ayshath S R, in conversation with Sara Aboobacker, – a writer who is a Muslim, a woman, a novelist who writes in Kannada, – bringing to the fore her deepest concerns about what is usually seen as an essentially contested concept – Islamic Feminism.
Normally we restrict our section to Indian Writing or maybe, South Asian writing, – these being our primary focus areas. There are times we have had to turn down articles on British, American and European literatures; at present there are about five thoughtful pieces with me which do not strictly conform to our defined areas. The idea is that one such article will be featured in every issue, henceforth. More articles on these literatures, therefore, are welcome. The other articles – Kinshuk Majumdar on Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies, Kusumita Dutta on Kashmir and its Story Tellers, Rachel Beri’s take on South Asian Poetry, locating the use of language as primal and neuroscience as a tool of analysis, and Sonal Jha’s perceptive analysis of Arun Kolatkar’s Sarpa Satra, rise above the ordinary and provide insights not only into the works discussed but also into the methodology of an incisive study of literature.
A question that often comes to mind while selecting articles is that of the use of language and research formats: research requires a strict adherence to formal patterns of writing in standard modes and the language, which explores theoretical aspects, veers towards the extremely formal, often becoming jargonistic in the process, especially in the hands of comparatively inexperienced researchers. While the need to maintain formal requirements is strong, we also feel that a certain amount of flexibility can add to the freshness of language and approach. So, though we expect the use of the MLA stylesheet in research articles, often, some of the best articles we receive use slightly different formats. For this reason, we will be a little more flexible as far as the citation and referencing formats are concerned, from this issue onwards. Further, in our Discussions, a more spontaneous form of expression which leads to a kind of personal contact with the reader is what we are looking for. Thus, Srinivas Reddy’s “Sanskrit and the Opera” enlarges the scope and range of the discourse by moving out of standard formats in its consideration of how a historical Indian language becomes fruitfully associated with western forms, an association, which he says goes back to more than two centuries.
I take this opportunity to welcome U Atreya Sarma as the Chief Editor of Muse India from this issue and to wish Team Muse India a very Happy New Year.