Theory Circle: Introduction

Theory, like poverty or sexuality, cannot be abstracted from society. It is at once a product and a signifier of the world we live in. I was introduced to the complexities of Theory while struggling with my doctoral research in the late eighties, but my real tryst with Theory came when I introduced a paper on Modern Literary Theory for the postgraduate students at the Institute of English, University of Kerala, in 1995. Since then, till I voluntarily gave up teaching Theory in 2014, it was a continuous process of learning, unlearning and relearning Theory. Though my formal engagement with Theory ended in 2014, my passion for anything to do with Theory continues unabated. The simple reason for this is the mesmerising hold it has over me at every moment of my life. Once introduced, Theory holds you in its thrall.

When I was putting together this website, I wanted to bring into its fold the melange of Theories that keeps changing colour everyday in the present world. I decided that this is the right time to revive Theory Circle, a group of Theory enthusiasts, that I had curated when I was the Head of the Institute of English. My aim is not to teach Theory or guide aspiring scholars to ‘use’ Theory, but to learn to recognise the theoretical underpinnings of our everyday life. It does not stop there. I feel we have to demystify Theory. I want to encourage understanding Theory mixed with a good dose of fun and laughter. Maybe along with vada and kaappi or samosa and chai if you like it.

With this idea in mind, I am inviting all those who are invested in Theory to contribute to this blog – short essays of less than 1000 words, talks not exceeding 15 minutes, interviews, bio-notes of major theorists – the list does not stop here; I leave it to your imagination to take it forward. You are encouraged to look into the website of Samyukta Research Foundation (SRF) to see the list of research areas that we are currently focusing on. Those who wish to contribute to this blog need not feel constrained by the real or imaginary boundaries of the areas we have listed. We dare those of you who are interested in Theory to challenge given ideas, push boundaries, and continue widening our intellectual horizons.

(Contributions to Samyukta Theory Circle may be mailed to