Vision and realities: blindness in literature
Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), Hyderabad, Dr Shilpaa Anand; L. Subramani, currently working with Deccan Herald and Dr. Hemachandran Karah, assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, formed the panel on understanding blindness in literature at the Manipal International Literature and Arts Platform (m.i.l.a.p.), on 16th September.
The moderator for the event, Dr. Aravinda Bhat, assistant professor at the Department of European Studies at Manipal University while addressing the gathering spoke about how literature deals with disability. “You cannot group all sighted people under one umbrella, similarly, you cannot stereotype all blind people to pertain to similar characteristics.”
The author of Lights Out- True Story of Man’s Descent Into Blindness, L. Subramani, talked about the portrayal of blindness in literature. He elaborated on how literature often portrays blindness as a disease, giving references to Jane Eyre and Jude the Obscure. Talking of the stereotypes in literature, Subramani said, “It is not fighting the disability itself that is a challenge for us, but fighting the stereotype.” He shared his experience on being hounded for wanting to pursue journalism. “I am a journalist who is blind, but I am not a blind journalist,” he said.
Dr. Hemchandran Karah talked about blind culture as a lived and constructed reality. He questioned people’s perception of blindness and about blind culture being a normative setup. The power of vision, he stated, is to observe things and choose what not to see to format a reality.
Edited by Shreya Job
Featured image courtesy Rukkini Chatterjee