This three-day conference and attendant film series have been organized to celebrate the birth centenary of the renowned Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray (1921-1992). Most critical evaluations of Ray, which tend to focus on his films while overlooking his considerable literary and design outputs, have consecrated him as a modernist master or a postcolonial auteur. Such discussions are often couched in terms of modernity and tradition, Orientalism and nativism, objectivity and irrationality, skepticism and enchantment, art cinema and popular cinema. Instead, we focus on wonder, an affect that cuts transversally across these polarities, as an analytical category that enables fresh perspectives from which to assess Ray’s contributions to Bengali culture, Indian modernity, and global cinema. We address his stature as the bestselling author of Bengali-language young adult fiction, as well as one of the most revered graphic artists of modern India. While Ray has been widely hailed as an artist upholding a universal brand of humanism, the conference seeks to flesh out his singularity in terms of a vernacular modernism and a critical humanist orientation.
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