Veena Das: 'Meaning, Emotion and the Poetic Voice'

Abstract of the Lecture: In this lecture, Professor Das addressed the question- how is the poetic voice constructed in Indian aesthetics? She explored the theories of meaning in dhwani theorists and questioned how the relation between explicit meaning and suggested meaning carves an understanding of language that provides a different route to the understanding of figures of speech than the classic discussions of truth conditions underlying metaphor and metonymy. Taking some key examples, she showed the centrality of syntax in the construction of time, space and emotion and traced some surprising affinities on the way grammar defines what something is in Wittgenstein and Cavell and the place of grammar in creating poetic meaning in dhwani theorists.

Veena Das is the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology and Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. She has researched extensively on collective violence, everyday life and social suffering. Currently she is engaged in a longitudinal study on urban poverty in Delhi, India. Her most recent books include Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary and a co-edited book, Philosophy and Anthropology: Affinities and Antagonisms (forthcoming). She received the Anders Retzius Medal of the Royal Society of Geography and Anthropology, Sweden in 1995 and an honorary doctorate in Letters Humaine from the University of Chicago in 2000