Four Indian Universities to Celebrate Things Fall Apart in October

Four Indian Universities – Osmania University, Hyderabad; Mysore University; Kolkata University; and the University of New Delhi, will kick off conferences to mark the celebration of the 50th year of the publication of “the noted Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe’s highly influential and widely studied first novel “Things fall Apart,” starting with opening proceedings at Osmania university, the last week of October.

According to the convener of the sub-continental conferences, Professor Bala Kothandaraman, each major Indian university will host individual seminars organized by their local English Departments – made possible by funding from the respective universities and the ICCR (the Indian Council for Cultural Relations).

Professor Lyn Innes Professor Emeritus of the University of Kent, Canterbury, England, will be the keynote speaker. In addition, Professor Kothandaraman provides that the seminars will celebrate local Indian and Asian scholars and highlight their vigorous and extensive Achebean and African Literary scholarship. Also invited to these ambitious celebrations are noted scholars from America, Europe, and Africa.

The Keynote speaker, Professor Lyn Innes, was born in Australia. Currently Professor Emeritus of the University of Kent, Canterbury, England, she graduated from the University of Sydney, before spending 12 years in the United States as a Postgraduate student and University lecturer, first at the University of Oregon, then at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama (1968-70), and finally at Cornell University. At Cornell, she completed the Comparative Literature doctoral programme revolving around Irish, African and Caribbean literatures (Francophone and Hispanic as well as English). After completing her doctoral thesis on Black and Irish Cultural Nationalism, she taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where the Nigerian novelist, Chinua Achebe, was Professor of African Literatures, and became Associate Editor of OKIKE Magazine: A Journal of African Creative Writing, which Chinua Achebe had founded. In 1975 she went as an exchange lecturer to the University of Kent, and remained there.

At the University of Kent she helped introduce the undergraduate degree in African and Caribbean Studies, which has now become a degree in English/Postcolonial Literatures; developed courses in Australian literature; taught various Irish literature courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels; and joined with colleagues in English to establish a Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies and an MA in Postcolonial Studies. She is a member of the editorial board of Wasafiri and of Interventions.
Her publications have developed the lines of interest established early in her career. They include two collections of African short stories co-edited with Chinua Achebe, and a critical book, Chinua Achebe (1990). Her other books are The Devil’s Own Mirror: the Irish and the African in Modern Literature (1990); Woman and Nation in Irish Literature and Society, 1880-1935 (1993); and A History of Black and South Asian Writing in Britain, 1700 – 2000. She is currently engaged in a diverse set of projects: compiling an anthology on the afterlife of the Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly, writing an Introduction to Postcolonial Literatures, and researching the history of black and Asian writers and artists in Ireland.

Professor Kothandaraman believes the series of seminars throughout India will provide “an ample occasion for some of the most expansive analysis of the contributions of Achebe’s oeuvre to world civilization.” A fitting tribute, according to the professor to “ a body of work that is required reading in schools and universities in India and around the world; and a novel (Things Fall Apart) that remains one of the most widely read and influential books ever written.”


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