Part 2 of an interview with noted author and academic Madhavi Menon

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Image courtesy: Media Studies / Ashoka University

“To say that the more we punish people, the fewer crimes there will be is a naive idea. Rather than serving justice, this punitive mindset serves only to satisfy our own bloodthirstiness,” says Madhavi Menon, Professor of English and Director for the Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality at Ashoka University. This is the second of a two-part interview that NewsTracker’s Zinnia Sengupta recorded with the noted author and academic, known for her provocative writings and unconventional approaches to English literature. Read part 1.

Since you were once the Chair of the Committee Against Sexual Harassment at Ashoka University, could you comment on existing official attitudes towards sexual harassment within academic spaces? Do you think the situation varies from private to public universities — if so, how? What needs to change in order to make these spaces safer and more inclusive for all genders and sexualities?

Professor Madhavi Menon on literature, law, violence against women, and news

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“I do not believe in the status quo at any level,” says Professor Madhavi Menon. Photo: Anamika Muraleedharan Nair

Madhavi Menon is Professor of English and Director for the Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality at Ashoka University. She is author of Wanton Words: Rhetoric and Sexuality in English Renaissance Drama; Unhistorical Shakespeare: Queer Theory in Shakespearean Literature and Film; Indifference to Difference: On Queer Universalism; and most recently, Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India. NewsTracker’s Zinnia Sengupta caught up with her on a chilly winter evening in her office at Ashoka University, where Menon spoke about the temporal relations between desire and violence, the intersectionality of news media, and the roles of law and literature in mediating sexual violence. …

Never am I trusting my fellow netizens ever again. Buy these earphones, they said. They’re the best earphones you’ll ever own, they said. What they conveniently forgot to mention, was that said earphones would leave my ears begging for mercy and my wallet cursing me for the huge hole I’d dug in it.

Just when I was ready to give up on humans and move to the mountains, my phone buzzed. How ironic. It was a friend of mine raving about this new app he’d discovered and how I absolutely needed to check it out.

Keeping my suitcases aside, my curiosity getting the better of me, I quickly downloaded the thankfully tiny app. And guess what floated up on the screen? …


Zinnia Sengupta

Firmly believes in human resilience and blueberry cheesecake. Currently pursuing the Young India Fellowship.

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