Joint Director: Dr. Abhijit Gupta
The School of Cultural Texts and Records was established in August 2003. It is one of the Interdisciplinary Schools which are a unique feature of the teaching and research structure of Jadavpur University.The School has a broad and open-ended agenda of documenting, processing and studying the textual basis (both verbal and audio-visual) of human society and cultural life in the widest sense. Its activities include:
- editing manuscripts and printed texts, especially those requiring multidisciplinary inputs, in electronic and print form
- preparing databases, bibliographies, concordances, indexes, handlists, location registers and other reference tools and search engines for cultural and textual studies
- studying the history of publishing and the printing press, especially in Bengal and in India as a whole
- recording oral literature, oral history, interviews and other oral material
- cross-modal or cross-segmental documentation: i.e., gathering material of different categories and genres in relation to a particular date, event or theme
- collection of ephemera (political and commercial publicity material, job printing work etc.)
- developing the resources for cultural informatics in India by accessing and developing appropriate technology for the above activities: in particular, creating appropriate software
- publishing the output in printed and digital (including online) form
The School has well-equipped project rooms with appropriate hardware and software support, as well as scanning, recording, filming and projecting equipment. It has already generated specialized software for advanced documenting and editing, for the first time in any Indic script. It has also brought out twelve publications and a CD.
The School holds a joint world record for the number of projects (five) that it has executed for the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library. It has also received major funding from the University Grants Commission, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, and the British Council.
The School has one of the most extensive collections (digital and physical) of modern Bengali literary manuscripts, including the work of Sudhindranath Datta, Buddhadeva Bose, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Badal Sircar, Jyotirmoyee Devi, Arun Kumar Sarkar and Sanjay Bhattacharya, and the correspondence of Sagarmoy Ghosh, the long-time editor of Desh magazine. It also holds all the extant screenplays of Tapan Sinha and Dinen Gupta, and the latter’s soundtracks. It has prepared a series of video interviews with eminent personalities of the film and theatre world.
The Endangered Archives projects included an extensive digital collection (still being augmented) of popular ‘street literature’ and another digital collection of early Bengali drama. It also includes an extensive archiving and study of surviving material in the obsolete Sylhet-Nagri script of the Bengali language.
The other two Endangered Archives projects relate to another major activity of the School, music archiving and sound recording studies. The School has one of the biggest (and incrementally expanding) collections of recorded North Indian classical music from the earliest times, as well as a substantial archive of Tagore songs and modern Bengali songs. For this aspect of the School’s activities, visit http://www.archive-icm.org/
The School is also the operational base for a Bengali Short-Title Catalogue (STC) – the only one in any Indian language, in fact one of few in the world. It has been completed up to 1867, with its own customized software. It offers full bibliographical details, far beyond the basic requirements of an STC. It can be viewed online (best with Internet Explorer) at http://www.compcon-asso.in/projects/biblio/welcome.php?redirect=/projects/biblio/index.php
Work is in progress for the period 1867-1947. The School has also prepared a database of translations into and out of the Bengali language for the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore.
The School has worked on many other projects – for instance, on the comic book in India or the upsurge of 1905 against the Partition of Bengal. It also carries out transcription and mark-up of literary and archival manuscripts, including those of earlier periods. It has collaborated in this way in preparing a complete electronic text of the Australian poet Charles Harpur’s manuscripts, and is currently processing the manuscript of Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native.
The School conducts a certificate course in Editing and Publishing. The University Grants Commission has just sanctioned its proposal to set up India’s first course in Digital Humanities. Besides Bichitra, its current major activities include work on electronic editing, music archiving and digitization of private collections of documents under the UGC’s ‘University with Potential for Excellence’ programme, and a project on Digitization of South Asian Archival Resources in collaboration with the British Library, funded by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust.
For a full account of the School’s activities, visit: http://www.jaduniv.edu.in/view_department.php?deptid=135