May 2017 was the busiest and the most exciting time for ENH! The department successfully organized its much-anticipated and widely-circulated international conference on gender and literature, titled Redrawing Gender Boundaries in Literary Terrains on May 18-19, 2017. The conference had seventy-three paper presenters from national and international institutions. The inauguration ceremony was held at 9.30am on Thursday May 18 at BRACU auditorium with a welcome speech by Dr. Rifat Mahbub, Assistant Professor of ENH. The Vice-Chancellor of BRACU, Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, honoured the guests with Uttoriyos and flowers. The VC graced the ceremony with his valuable speech where he highlighted the various exciting initiatives taken up by BRACU as such this conference. Professor Firdous Azim, Chairperson, ENH, in her welcome address highlighted the thoughts behind this conference, and thanked everyone from the VC, guests, participants, to student volunteers for making it possible. Special mention was made to City Bank and Prime Bank, the sponsors of the conference and Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam and Professor Samina Sultana for their contributions. The keynote session took place after the inauguration and the first tea break. The keynote speakers were Professor Ruth Evans from St. Louis University, Missouri, USA, and Professor Niaz Zaman, Independent University, Bangladesh. Professor Evas’s paper was titled “Unrelatability: Reading Literary Works from the Past in the Feminist Present” and Professor Zaman’s “The Accidental Feminist.” This session was moderated by Dr. Rifat Mahbub.
In addition to academic papers, the conference included a reading session by Gantha, a creative writing platform for women, on the first day, and an open discussion by Centre for Bangladesh Studies, an independent think tank, on the topic of struggles against patriarchy in Bangladesh, on day 2. The key focus of the conference was to look at gender and its multiplicities through topics such as identity politics, gender norms and movements, bending boundaries and transnational women’s writings. From literature (both Bangla and English), film and media to politics and society, ideas and thoughts were shared inside the auditorium and classrooms as well as outside over seemingly endless cups of hot tea.
An exciting session titled “S/heis S/he!!!: Queering Gender Performativity and Transformativity in Indian Myths and Literature” was held by a team of faculty members from Jahangirnagar University. Two lectures were given on Language, Literature and Society- the first by Sowyma Dechamma, Assistant Professor, Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Hyderabad, on "Orality, Sexuality and Caste: A Case of Minority Languages” and another by Azfar Hussain, Associate Professor of Liberal Studies/Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University and Professor of English, World Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies at The Global Center for Advanced Studies, USA, on “Giocanda Belli and Revolutionary Feminism.” The conference ended with the talk by our special guest Professor Susie Tharu, from University of Hyderabad, India. In her talk, titled, “Women Writing in India: A Jubilee Reconsideration”, Professor Tharu revisited the twenty-five years of publication of her seminal work, Women Writing in India: 600 B.C. to Early Twentieth Century (Vol. I & II). This session was moderated by Rukhsana Rahim Chowdhury, Senoir Lecturer, ENH. In this well-attended conference, it was promised that selected papers would be published either in a book or a special edition of BRACU journal.