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English professor's new book explores grieving through study of postcolonial literature

March 19, 2013
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Dr. Asha Sen

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Asha Sen, a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has recently published a new book titled "Postcolonial Yearning: Reshaping Spiritual and Secular Discourses in Contemporary Literature," through Palgrave Macmillan Publishing.

Sen specializes in teaching 20th-century British and postcolonial literature at UW-Eau Claire and is teaching at Harlaxton College in the town of Grantham, England, this semester as part of a study-abroad exchange.

"'Postcolonial Yearning: Reshaping Spiritual and Secular Discourses in Contemporary Literature' is born out of my experiences during and after the loss of my partner, Dr. Eberth Alarcon, a mathematics professor at UW-Eau Claire, to leukemia in 2006," Sen said. "Like many postcolonial scholars of my generation, I had been witness to so much religious violence that I put my faith in a secular vision of the world. However, I could gain no comfort from this vision when Eberth passed."

Sen explained that while she was attempting to find solace for her own grief, she began noticing a number of postcolonial writers, such as Pico Iyer, Leila Ahmed and Lata Mani, begin to express their feelings of unrest with secular notions of life and death after the 2003 passing of Edward Said, the founder of postcolonial studies.

"By examining the ways in which different authors make use of spiritual traditions, my book synthesizes sacred epistemology with critical theory in order to transform spiritual and secular discourses and provide readers with a holistic frame of reference for critical interpretation," Sen said. "Writing it brought me comfort, and I hope reading it will extend comfort to others as they navigate their personal literary and life journeys."

For more information on "Postcolonial Yearning: Reshaping Spiritual and Secular Discourses in Contemporary Literature," contact Dr. Asha Sen at sena@uwec.edu or 715-836-2732.

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