Sreyoshi Sarkar comes to us from Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her doctoral degree in Postcolonial literature and media from George Washington University D.C. this past summer. She specializes in South Asian studies, gender, and eco-criticism, and has published works in journals like Commonwealth Essays and Studies, South Asian Review, and Green Letters Journal. She will be teaching courses in world literature and film studies here at Ball State.
How would you describe your perspective on teaching?
I love teaching because for me it is an interactive platform where everyone in class is a participant, including the instructor. My part in this collaborative process is to introduce students to the subject of study, its key concepts, and some important scholarship. But beyond that my classes are highly interactive – an eclectic mix of short lectures interwoven with a lot of in-class discussion, group work, and creative presentations.
The same applies to my written assignments. I always emphasize that students focus on their individual experiences of a text when making an argument about it. For me, “the experience of” is crucial. It invites us (and by “us” I mean both the students and me) to critically analyze the art and craft of the text and our own individual contexts that often inform how we receive a text.
In my experience, such deep thinking enables us to be more self-aware and also more patient with and respectful towards each other and our differences. Sometimes, such moments of teaching-learning go a long way in making us better citizens at home and in the world.
Finally, the teachers who made a difference in my life were always humble, sensitive, and truly caring individuals; they were invested in their students’ making the most out of a class. And that is what I strive to do as well.
What are you currently reading, if anything?
I’m reading Anita Desai’s The Artist of Disappearance. Desai is an internationally renowned Indian Anglophone author. This is her latest book and is a collection of three novellas set in modern India. The first story is about an unnamed government officer who visits an old mansion full of souvenirs from across the world. These were collected by the son of the family on his travels across the world, but neither he nor any other family member lives in the house anymore. So, the caretaker wants the government to take over this house-turned-into- “museum of things.”
I’m very interested in thing cultures and especially postcolonial narratives about human-object encounters and that is what got me hooked in this book.
What is a text that you think everyone should read?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I first read the book in English translation in my junior year in college and it completely blew my mind. The very first sentence reports the murder of Santiago Nasar. The rest of the book retraces the bullet’s trajectory from the victim to the gun from which it was fired and therein reconstructs the backstory. It was fabulous what Marquez did in terms of playing with time and narrative organization; I was amazed at his sheer brilliance, creativity, and craft.
Reading the novella did something life-changing for me: it made me realize that there is no one right way to tell a story or one right perspective on life for that matter. What counts is that I pour in all I got into life and work every day – the best of my imagination, hard work, and creative energies. This process of creating/crafting bits of everyday life is what is most exciting for me.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Yes I am. I’m writing a book review on asylum narratives, adapting a section of my dissertation chapter into an article, and working on a conference paper on Michael Winterbottom’s In This World for the MLA 2018 annual convention in New York.
What are some of your hobbies or interests?
Long road trips, exploring different kinds of cuisines, collecting animal figurines, reading, and watching foreign language films with subtitles.
What is a piece of advice you would offer students?
Take advantage of this time in college. Enjoy it fully but also get to know your professors, peers, and other folks better. Sometimes you will not only make friends for life here, but if you make good use of office hours, you might find mentors for a lifetime as well.