(En)Gendering Colonial Masculinities in Rabindranath Tagore’s Novels

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2021)
Title: (En)Gendering Colonial Masculinities in Rabindranath Tagore’s Novels
Stream: Gender, Sexuality and Culture
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Krishnapriya T K, Manipal Institute of Communication, MAHE, India
Padma Rani, Manipal Institute of Communication, MAHE, India


Colonial India of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was a period of monumental changes. The nation’s tryst with imperialism propelled a socio-cultural upheaval that impacted the affairs of the private and the public alike. Nevertheless, the repercussions were not homogenously experienced by all. The nation’s men were confronted with a public overridden with colonial supremacy. Interestingly, it was the constant humiliation and degradation of the native construct of masculinity by its supposedly superior western counterpart that shaped the outward projection and inward internalization of Indian men and their masculinities. Asia’s first Nobel laureate and India’s Renaissance man, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is a polymath. Amid his gigantic literary contribution, Tagore’s novels fiercely capture the nuances of the colonial period. Moreover, they delve into a profound and diverse construction of masculinities. Tagore’s men are reformists, traditionalists, nationalists, romantics and the bhadralok (the middle class modern Indian man characteristic to the colonial period). Hence, Rabindranath Tagore’s two novels – Char Adhyay (1934) and Jogajog (1929) – are chosen for a closer inspection in this study. True to their ‘political’ and ‘domestic’ classifications, these novels embody vital yet contrasting constructions of Indian masculinities. Biprodas and Madhusudan of Jogajog and Indranath and Autin of Char Adhyay are representatives of two clashing factions. This paper aims to locate the constructions of masculinities during the colonial period through a close textual reading of the novels while simultaneously drawing from Raewyn Connell’s postulations on masculinities.

Virtual Presentation

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