…again: contexts…

So here we are again. Beginning, struggling, trying to find an entry into the larger discourse which we ourselves hope to strengthen. But it’s not so much a beginning as a rebirth, a renaissance. An old journal in a new avatar. A new Literophile.

It is a pleasure, gentles, to be introducing the first issue of volume four of Literophile. We are a hoping to achieve new horizons, but keeping in mind the best of what was. Reviving Literophile has been quite the uphill task, but we’ve finally managed and here it is, right where it should be: in your hands, attentive, critical reader.

Let’s contextualise a bit. Literophile, as you must have deduced from the previous note, was started long, long ago as a journal for amateur academic research. It had a long and exciting run, passed hands and patrons, came out in the open and then, like so many other exciting and engaging youth ventures, died. What you have before you is quite literally the phoenix from the ashes – and ashes long cold and scattered too, for this comes after the considerable hiatus of three years or so. The team is made up of young, misguided literature-wallahs who have slogged to make this happen, though we don’t have any connection with the old guard.

No connection except one: literature, criticism. One thing to hold them all, one thing to find them, one thing to bring them all and in literary criticism bind them!

If Literophile is here again, it is more or less this desire which guides us. There is in this university no lack of forums for students to express themselves. The past five years have seen a spurt in the number of both affiliated and independent student ventures in the field of literary production, creative writing as it is generally understood. However, if there has been a spurt there, the opportunities for publication of amateur academic writing – which by some strange quirk isn’t regarded creative – have actually diminished.

Opportunities for publication only, for the incentives for research continue to increase. What with independent magazines and newsletters, commercial offshoots of professional media and institutionalised ventures of various departments at various levels, the literary scene at the university level is more vibrant today than, say, a decade ago. Within this overall structure is a niche for amateur research as well, for now that departments have started democraticising and allowing students a voice, there are greater opportunities for discussion and debate on the academic platform. Again, in this university at least, student seminars have become common enough and there is a growing sense of a distinct, if only mimetic, student space for research and criticism.

That space, however, has yet to manifest as the written word. This is where we come in, to hopefully fill in the lacuna for amateur research and criticism in not just the University of Delhi but the wider, exciting literary scene in this country. Indeed, this is precisely what Literophile is being revived as, as a bimonthly, theme based journal for amateur academic research by any student of English Literature, Literature in English, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies affiliated to any university or institute in India. In reviving Literophile we hope to generate discourse on a range of issues, theories and ideas and so orient the fledging community of English Literature students – a community whose very increase is cause for some worry – to these same.

This we hope to do through subscriptions. What we mean is that like a majority of journals and magazines, Literophile will be made available through subscriptions; however, unlike others, these alone will be our source for expenditure. By thus remaining free of sponsors, institutes or otherwise, we hope to maintain in the overall social context our freedom to be free. Not just this, for being so, having fellow amateurs directly vested in our continuance and consolidation, we hope also to derive some comfort from the presence of like-minded people at hand: as ever, it is still a solace to the wretched to have companions in woe.

In all of this, Literophile will assume a position as neutral and unbiased to the range of opinion submitted to it as can possibly be. As long as actual genocide or hostility is not advocated, we will not discriminate on the basis of the ideological import of the contributions submitted to us by members of the student community at large. Nor, indeed, will we be responsible for the veracity of this research. Debate and dissent have for long been the premise for the much nuanced and complex tradition of criticism and theory and we would not like being committed to only a particular point of view to deny ourselves the opportunity of being part of this.

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