The IUP Journal of English Studies
Crossing Caste Boundaries: Exploring Cognitive and Affective Empathy in Srividya Natarajan and Stephen Anand's Graphic Novel Bhimayana

Article Details
Pub. Date : March, 2022
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES150322
Author Name :Kabita Mondal
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 12



Eminent theorists of empathy, such as Robert Vischer, Edward Titchener, Theodor Lipps, Vernon Lee and Wilhelm Worringer, inclined to relate visual stimulation to the empathic response. Dealing with the heartrending accounts experienced by the Indian social reformer B R Ambedkar as an untouchable in his childhood narrated in his autobiographical notes, Srividya Natarajan and Stephen Anand's graphic novel Bhimayana delineates the difficulties of combating caste prejudice and bigotry endured by Ambedkar in particular and Dalits in India in general, with coeval accounts of the evil social custom of untouchability and marginalization. As vision is a prime empathic sense, it is a subtle and acute job on the part of the author to enable a reader to share feelings through the art and mechanism of narration which is known as "narrative empathy." The present paper attempts to explore how through the subtle use of visual imagery and metaphors, and emotionally evocative narrative technique, Bhimayana recounts the comprehensive struggle against caste repression executed by home-grown scourges, and how it evokes cognitive and affective empathy in its readers, leading them to enhance their finer feelings through the unraveling of its visual language.

The Maltese-American cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco describes Srividya Natarajan and Stephen Anand's graphic novel Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability (2011) as "Distinctive ... challenging in all the right ways." The English art critic, novelist, painter and poet John Berger who wrote the foreword of the book also designates it as "an extraordinary book." Published by the New Delhi-based Navayana, this creative graphic fiction illustrates and catalogues the biography of Bhimrao