Devaleena Das

Position title: Honorary Fellow (2016-2017)

Gender and Women's Studies, UW-Madison

Portrait image of Devaleena Das seated

Body Parts and Bodily Integrity: Twentieth Century Feminist Art, Music, and Literature

As Margaret Atwood writes, the female body is always seen to be a “hot topic” in all cultures across the world. Despite their other differences, socio-cultural systems in diverse epochs and regions have employed a standardized system of mapping and atomizing the female body. In the twentieth century when women writers start writing about their lived bodily experiences, some of them also start seeing their bodies beyond the composite whole with alternate views. How do they overcome seeing their organs as encoded with cultural meanings that were imagined to reside in, on, and about women’s individual body parts? What if women writers (and their readers) begin to see their body parts less as vehicles of cultural values and more as anatomical signatures that express varied emotions, creativity and a repressed sense of self? With a transnational approach, I will explore these questions in twentieth-century women’s writing, arguing that the texts they produced evidence “anatomphilia,” an affective bond between the subjectivity and the atomized body.

Devaleena Das was a former Assistant Professor of English and Gender Studies at Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. Currently she is teaching in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She received her Ph.D. from Calcutta University in 2012. Her dissertation examines postcolonial and gendered space in Australia and she works in the field of intersectional feminism.