Director: Professor Amlan Das Gupta
Joint Director: Professor Subha Chakraborty Dasgupta
Ph: 2414-6681 (D), 2457-2631, 2457-2943 (O)
The School of Cultural Texts and Records was formally set up in August 2003, and began functioning in January 2004 after allocation of space and funds. It 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 approved activities include:
- editing manuscripts and printed texts, especially those requiring multidisciplinary inputs, in electronic and print form
- preparing databases, bibliographies, concordances, indexes, hand lists, 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 growing archives of various kinds of material as detailed on this site. It 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.
In the earliest phase, project funds came chiefly from the University Grants Commission, particularly under the "University with Potential for Excellence" scheme but also under Major Research Projects. Subsequently, five projects were funded by the British Library under its Endangered Archives Programme: the largest number of such projects granted to any single research unit in the world. Projects have also been supported by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi; the British Council; the Universities of Sydney and of New South Wales, Australia; the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore; and ABP Limited. Most recently, the Ministry of Culture has granted generous funding for the "Bichitra" project to create a complete online variorum edition of the works of Rabindranath Tagore.
ARCHIVE OF BENGALI LITERARY AND CULTURAL DOCUMENTS
The School has a fast growing archive of manuscripts and documents relating to modern Bengali literature and culture. We are receiving more and more new contributions, and would appeal to all writers and cultural personalities, and their families and friends, to make such material available to us. We can acquire, preserve and digitize the papers; or, if the donors prefer, maintain a digital archive while the original papers remain with the creator or his/her family.
(A) ORIGINAL ARCHIVES
Sudhindranath Datta and Rajeshwari Datta Papers
All manuscripts and papers of the poet Sudhindranath Datta and the singer and musicologist Rajeshwari Datta were bequeathed to Jadavpur University, and are now in the custody of the School. This treasure-house of unpublished, and often unknown, material has been sorted, identified, conserved and digitised, and a handlist prepared. Two volumes of material have been published, of Sudhindranath’s Bengali short stories, and his English writings.
Shakti Chattopadhyay Papers
The family of the late poet has presented us with four volumes of his poetic manuscripts along with ancillary records and documents. Another four files were made available for digitizing. We have also prepared a CD from old video cassettes of events and celebrations concerning the poet, with many of his own readings and discussions of poetry.
Jyotirmoyee Debi and Saibal Gupta Papers
The family of the late Jyotirmoyee Debi has gifted us the greater part of her literary manuscripts, letters and other documents; also many rare journals where her work was published. Along with this material, we have received the personal papers of the late Saibal Gupta. They contain valuable records of his work on urban development and refugee rehabilitation, as well as his literary and cultural interests.
Tapan Sinha Papers
The eminent film director generously presented us with a large collection of papers relating to his work. It includes the shooting scripts of 20 films, sometimes in more than one version, plus a great deal of correspondence and records. The material has been sorted and digitized. Shri Sinha has also generously entrusted us with keeping and caring for any documents relating to his work that may be available in the future.
Sanjay Bhattacharya Notebooks
The School has recently obtained two notebooks full of unpublished poems by the late poet Sanjay Bhattacharya. These have been preserved and digitized.
Dinen Gupta Papers and Music Recordings
The daughter of the late film personality Dinen Gupta has generously presented us with all surviving scripts and related papers of the films directed or produced by him, along with tapes of many musical settings composed and directed by him. The collection has been listed and preserved for future digitization when the opportunity offers.
Vijaya Mukhopadhyay and Sarat Kumar Mukhopadhyay Papers
The poets Vijaya Mukhopadhyay and Sarat Kumar Mukhopadhyay have kindly presented us with manuscript books of their poems, as well as a number of loose manuscript pages. These have been preserved and digitized.
Ramesh Majumdar papers
The daughter of the late Ramesh Chandra Majumdar has kindly presented us with the working papers and manuscripts of this eminent historian, They have been listed and preserved for future digitization when the opportunity offers.
(B) DIGITAL ARCHIVES
Buddhadeva Bose Papers
The poet’s family kindly allowed the School to digitize and list virtually all his English and Bengali manuscripts in their possession, comprising 91 volumes. They include a great many unpublished texts, including the poet’s own English translations of his Bengali works, as well as significant variant versions of published works.
Arun Kumar Sarkar Papers
We have prepared a digital archive of all extant manuscripts of the late poet Arun Kumar Sarkar, including drafts of many poems, as well as letters and miscellaneous papers. The material was kindly made available to us by the poet’s son.
Badal Sircar Papers
The late playwright Badal Sircar kindly allowed the School to digitize a large selection of his manuscripts and other papers. They include manuscripts of plays such as Tringsha Shatabdi and Bara Pishima, alternative versions of plays for radio and other productions, Hindi translations of plays, manuscripts of essays and radio talks in Bengali and English, clippings from newspapers and journals, cast lists and set designs, and miscellaneous correspondence.
Naresh Guha Correspondence
The late Professor Naresh Guha kindly permitted us to digitize his extensive store of letters from eminent writers and artists. The biggest number of letters is from Buddhadeva Bose and Pratibha Bose; there are also many from Jamini Roy, Jagannath Chakrabarti, Pramathanath Bishi and Ashok Mitra, and a large selection from many other persons. There is also some interesting material from and relating to Ezra Pound.
ABP Limited entrusted us with digitizing the correspondence received by the late Sagarmay Ghosh, the legendary editor of the magazine Desh. This collection includes items from nearly all major Bengali writers across the generations, and a great quantity of other material. They constitute a treasure-house of information on modern Bengali literary history.
Archive of Early Bengali Drama
The last project undertaken by the School for the British Librarys Endangered Archives Programme was a digital archive of early Bengali drama, using the valuable private collection of Dr Devajit Bandyopadhyay. The completed output consists of 112,174 images comprising 304 printed volumes plus 78 volumes of 7 journal titles and 3 manuscript volumes. All the material consists of unique or near-unique copies, or uniquely extensive runs of journals. They comprise a priceless single-window research resource for all work on Bengali drama, song and the performative arts, as also on theatrical publishing
Digital Archive of Street Literature: See under "Other Archives".
Archive of Recorded North Indian Classical Music
This project aims to create an extensive database of recorded north Indian classical music, from the earliest phonographs onward, in cleaned and digitised versions. About 2,000 hours of playing-time have already been recorded, and a further 1,500 hours obtained or firmly pledged. This includes a great deal of rare material from private collections, often recorded at private concerts and soirées and never commercially circulated. Many meetings and events have been organized under the auspices of the Music Archive, which has established its presence among India’s musical and musicological community.
An ancillary collection of Rabindrasangeet and other heritage Bengali music had also been compiled in the early days of the School. This has recently been augmented by an ongoing programme to digitize a rare and extensive collection of early recorded Bengali songs kindly made available by Shri Saila Sekhar Mitter. The work is continuing with a research grant from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
The work has been funded by two successive Major Project Grants from the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library. See the British Library webpage
Archive of Street Literature The School has built up a collection of "street literature" or chapbooks for popular circulation – books sold in markets and fairs,or peddled on streets, trains and buses. They open up an entirely new world of popular reading practices and demands, a little-known rural parallel to the more prominent Bat-tala books. Some 700 volumes have so far been acquired, including some a collection from the 1950s and some specimens of Islamic kissa literature.
A digital archive of such books, embracing our own collection as well as other material, has also been set up under the British Librarys Endangered Archives Programme. This covers material acquired by the few private collectors in the field, some early 20th-century material, and some unique material at the interface of Bengali and Oriya culture. See the British Library webpage
Ravi Dayal Archive
The family of the eminent publisher has presented the School with his editorial archives. They include early versions of works by many major Indian writers in English, and illustrate the masterly editing of complex manuscripts for which Dayal achieved a legendary reputation. The archive is accompanied by a set of all volumes published under the imprint of Ravi Dayal Publisher, kindly presented by their distributor, Orient Longman.
Personal narratives of the Partition of India, 1947
A large collection of interviews and oral narratives have been compiled from refugees and observers of the first phase of emigration and settlement following the Partition of India in 1947. Part of this material relates specifically to Bijoygarh Colony, while the rest covers a spectrum of settlements and experiences, as well as reminiscences of the refugees’ pre-Partition life in East Bengal. A volume containing these narratives and other relevant records has been published.
Archive of Modern Bengali Political Ephemera
This is a collection of recent political ephemera from West Bengal covering all major and some minor political parties, as well as front organisations and associated public bodies. There is no comparable collection of printed ephemera anywhere in India. It comprises some 500 items, chiefly of electoral campaign material but also other public notices, posters, manifestos, leaflets, etc. The material has been classified and catalogued, with notes on the printing process.
Archive of Sylhet-Nagri Texts: See "Projects".
Recovery and Editing of Texts in the Sylheti-Nagri Script
The School is collecting, digitizing and editing Bengali texts in the now obsolete Sylheti-Nagri script which, down to the mid-20th-century or even later, was a rich medium of composition and social exchange in the Sylhet-Cachar region. Field trips to Cachar District, Assam, have been made to supplement the nucleus of material available in Kolkata. Over 100 texts have been acquired, and 25 transcribed into standard Bengali. A CD has been prepared of the texts of 25 works. The first scholarly edition of any such text (of the volume Pahela Kitab) has been published, and other volumes are in preparation.
Work on this material has received support at different times from the UGC and the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library.
Short-Title Catalogue of Bengali Books, 1801-1867
The School is preparing a Short-Title Catalogue of Bengali books – the first in any Indian language. Each entry comprises a full bibliographical record plus complete title-page transcript (including typographical data) and location register. Work on the period 1800-1867 (approx. 3,500 entries) is complete, and the results placed on a website (URL: http://www.compcon-asso.in/projects/biblio/welcome.php?redirect=/projects/biblio/index.php) using a customized software. Data collection is in progress for the second and third phases, 1867-1814 and 1914 onwards. 11 major libraries are covered, including the National Library, Asiatic Society, Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, Serampore College, Uttarpara Jaykrishna Library and British Library. The project has been supported by the UGC and the Bibliographical Society, UK.
The database may be accessed (best with Internet Explorer) at
The Bichitra Project: Tagore Online Electronic Variorum
Following two earlier pilot projects, the School took up a major project entitled ‘Bichitra’ to create a complete online variorum edition of Tagore’s works in Bengali and English. Fully funded by the Ministry of Culture, this project was part of the Government of India’s plans to celebrate Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary. The project was completed on time, and inaugurated by the Hon’ble President of India at Jadavpur University on 5 May 2013.
Bichitra is by far the world’s biggest integrated website of primary documents relating to a single author. It also contains some notable new programmes for text processing and analysis. It comprises the following major components:
Bichitra provides a complete online resource for Tagore’s works in both English and Bengali. Its chief components are as follows:
1. Digital images of all available manuscripts and all important printed versions totalling 47,520 pages of manuscripts and 91,637 pages of printed books and journals.
2. Clear-text readable files of every separate version of every work (manuscript and print).
3. A search engine to locate all words and phrases in Tagore’s works.
4. A unique collation engine to compare different versions of a text, noting every variation at 3 levels: chapter/scene/canto, stanza/speech/paragraph and individual words.
5. A checklist of the contents of all Tagore’s manuscripts.
6. A bibliography of all journal versions and important print editions of Tagore’s works.
Various software programs have been specially developed for Bichitra. There is a new search engine and a text-filtering software. But most truly innovative is the multi-level collation engine described above, which has virtually no precedent. As it can be used for all languages and alphabets, it can provide an electronic cultural resource of global application.
We are specially proud that all these programs were developed, and the website itself designed, by young researchers and entrepreneurs in Kolkata. Most of them are students, alumni or faculty members of Jadavpur University. All of them, and all project workers for all tasks, were below the age of 35. Thirty of them worked full-time on the project for two years. The project was conducted by Prof. Sukanta Chaudhuri, Professor Emeritus, with Prof. Sankha Ghosh, noted poet and former Professor of Bengali, as adviser. First Prof. Subha Chakraborty Dasgupta and then Dr Samantak Das acted as Executive Head.
Rabindra-Bhavana, Santiniketan, was the principal project partner and provided us with most of the material. Harvard University provided copies of all Tagore’s English literary manuscripts in their possession. Other partners include the National Library, Kolkata; the University of Calcutta; Bangiya Sahitya Parishat; Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta; Senate House Library, University of London; Raja Rammohan Roy Library Foundation; and C-DAC.
Picture of Bichitra Launch by president of India
Bichitra can be accessed at -bichitra.jdvu.ac.in
A short video presentation on the making of Bichitra can be viewed at - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRNT9pf-sWA
Database of Translations into Bengali
This project comprises a full bibliography and computerised database of translations into Bengali from other languages. Much of this material is difficult to trace, having appeared in rare and obscure journals, or in books long out of print. The work was conducted in association with the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore for “Anukriti”, the all-India online translation database of the CIIL.
Documenting the Upsurge of 1905
Much rare material has been collected on this historic event from the National Library (including the Newspaper Library), the State Secretariat Library, the West Bengal State Archives, the Nehru Memorial Library, the National Archives, New Delhi and the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, besides private holdings.
Video Interviews with Film and Theatre Personalities
A new project of the School, in collaboration with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, is to record video interviews with personalities from the film and theatre world. These include not only actors and directors but all other categories of associated persons. In fact, special stress is laid on recording the recollections and views of persons who remain behind the scenes, and whose contributions often go unacknowledged.
29 interviews have been filmed so far. The subjects include Mrinal Sen (Director), Ramananda Sengupta (cinematographer), Dulal Datta (editor), Saumendu Ray (cinematographer), Gita Dey (actor), Jogesh Datta (mime artist), Nemai Ghosh (photographer), Arghakamal Mitra (film editor), Shaktipada Rajguru (author and script-writer), Bharati Devi (actor), Rabi Chattopadhyay (art director), Lolita Chatterjee (actress), and Purnendu Bose (cinematographer). We have also filmed the last jatra produced and acted in by the legendary jatra personality Shantigopal.
Charles Harpur Digitization Project
The School collaborated with the Universities of Sydney and New South Wales, Australia, in producing a full critical edition of Charles Harpur, the 19th-century Australian poet. The specific responsibility of the School was the intricate task of producing transcripts with xml mark-up of the Harpur manuscripts, made available to us in digital image files. The work has been completed, and the marked-up transmits passed on to our Australian partners for further processing.
The Comic Book in India
This is a new project, taken up recently with funding from the British Council, Kolkata. It seeks to compile a representative collection of comic books in five languages, Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and English, as well as a database of their creators incorporating interviews as well as biographical information. All the material will be put on a website. We wish to use this as an opportunity to build up a community of creators and scholars in this field.
Printing and Book Production in Bengal
In February 2009, we organized a major exhibition on the above theme, in collaboration with the British Council and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. The exhibition comprised an unprecedented display of original books and other print material, a number of historic presses and other printing equipment, as well as a series of illustrated panels tracing the history and sociology of printing in Bengal in all languages. The exhibition was accompanied by an international workshop on Bengali typography and book production.
Video Film of Durga Puja
The School was commissioned by the National Library to prepare a video film on “Durga Puja in West Bengal” for nomination as the official Indian entry for inscription in the UNESCO list of the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of the World”. Our film received the nomination from among all the entries submitted.
Bengali Collation Software “PATHANTAR”
This is the first software developed in any language or alphabet other than the Roman (English) alphabet, for collation (textual comparison) of multiple texts. It is Unicode compliant. It can therefore easily be adapted to any other alphabet, including the Roman (for Tagores English writings), as well as other Indian languages. It holds out the possibility of a comprehensive database of Indian literatures in times to come.
The software can, in theory, collate any number of texts. We have used it successfully to collate eight variant texts of the play Bisarjan at the same time, with no detectable loss of speed. We use it in conjunction with the Unicode-compliant and phonetically scientific keyboard software “Avro”. A user-friendly interface has been designed by the School of Education Technology, Jadavpur University.
Important features of the software are:
- It can display variations in punctuation as well as wording.
- Any of the variant texts can be selected as base text.
- It employs colour-coding and highlighting for easy identification of each variant source.
We would claim that this is the most versatile collation software in any language, barring one or two high-cost customized products, patented for specific projects and not otherwise available. It offers some features not available in the standard Roman-alphabet collation software “Juxta”.
The software is being radically redesigned in accord with the revolutionary new concept of “Cortex”, or a single composite file incorporating all variant versions. We are developing this new version through interaction with its original developer, Loyola University, Chicago.
Bilingual Database Software “Sarbanam”
The School has also sponsored the comprehensive, customized database software “Sarbanam”, which allows data storage, sorting and search using the Bengali as well as the Roman alphabet, and diacritical marks in the latter. Data from separate heads or projects is stored on separate databases, under fields appropriate to the relevant material. Comprehensive searches may be undertaken across several or all the databases, using common fields or keywords.
We plan to transfer all metadata of our own projects to this software. In course of time, this metadata may be integrated with data from other sources.
Customized software for Bengali Short-Title Catalogue
A customized software has been developed for the website incorporating the Bengali Short-Title Catalogue. It displays the entire catalogue entry on screen in Bengali and Roman alphabets including diacritical marks, and allows searches under any field using a pull-down menu.
COURSES AND TRAINING PROGRAMMES
From 2011, the School is formally enrolling doctoral students for research proposals related to its fields of activity. Information can be obtained at the appropriate time of the academic year from the University website, or from the authorities of the School.
Certificate Course in Editing and Publishing
The School conducts a 4-month Postgraduate Certificate Course in Editing and Publishing, to train students in the basic skills required to edit texts for the publishing industry and the media, and to see the work through the entire production process. The course comprises actual text editing, production design, printing-house practice and relevant computer skills, as well as marketing, entrepreneurship and intellectual property issues. It includes visits to printing and publishing units. We are preparing a textbook to facilitate the teaching of such courses.
Many eminent Indian publishers, printers and media professionals act as guest faculty for this course. It has proved popular with employers, as borne out by intensive campus recruitment, subsequent job offers and internships.
Enquiries about enrolment, curriculum and placement should be made to Dr Abhijit Gupta, Department of English (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Audit Course on Music Appreciation
The Music Archive has conducted 50-hour, 12-weeks Audit Courses on The History of North Indian Classical Music: Tradition, Theory, Practice in 2010 and 2011. The course has proved extremely popular, and may be repeated. Classes were taken by Professor Amlan Das Gupta, other staff of the Music Archive, and eminent visiting experts. The course covered the basic principles and concepts of North Indian classical music, as well as the principal gharanas of vocal and instrumental music, and the Sufi musical heritage.
Institutional Training Programmes
The School offers to conduct custom-designed training programmes to suit the needs of particular institutions and groups. It has conducted a three-day programme for scientists of the Geological Survey of India, on preparing scientific papers for publication and interacting with the press. Such programmes can be organised in the fields of text preparation, editing and book production design, with relevant computer skills. Instructors will include Jadavpur faculty as well as professionals from the publishing industry and the media, as appropriate.
Short-Term Training Courses
The School conducts short training programmes of one or two weeks in bibliography, documentation and textual research, including the use of electronic resources, and also in music appreciation. It recently conducted a one-semester evening course on North Indian classical music under the University’s extra-mural programme of "audit courses".
The School has formal collaborative arrangements, current or completed, with
- Rabindra-Bhavana, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan
- the British Council, Eastern Regional Office, Kolkata
- the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi
- the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore
- the University of Bologna, Italy, in its Departments of Italian Studies and Oriental Studies
- the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand It also has close interaction with
- the Centre for Textual Scholarship, De Montfort University, UK
- the School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK; in particular with its Institute of English Studies
- the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College, London, UK
- the Centre for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities, Loyola University, Chicago, USA
- the “Archive and Access” Consortium
- Pahela Kitab. Critical edition of the Sylheti-Nagri text, with introduction, transliteration, translation, and textual, etymological & explanatory notes. Compiled from the School’s archive. Edited by Anuradha Chanda. Dey’s Publishing, Kolkata, 2006.
- Dhvansa o Nirman. Oral history of the Partition of Bengal, comprising interviews with early refugee settlers and other associated persons, and various other records collected by the School. Edited by Tridib Chakrabarti. Sereban, Kolkata, 2007.
- Sudhindranath Datter Galpasamgraha. Bengali short stories (original writings and translations) by Sudhindranath Datta, chiefly unpublished and unknown, compiled from the School’s archive. Edited by Swapan Majumdar. Dey’s Publishing, Kolkata, 2007.
- Atmajibani: Jibani o Rabindranath. Collected essays on Rabindranath by the late Professor Sisir Kumar Das. Dey’s Publishing, Kolkata, 2007.
- Kishorepathya Patrikapanchak. Bibliography of five Bengali children’s magazines. Edited by Amal Pal. Dey’s Publishing, Kolkata, 2007.
- The Art of the Intellect: Uncollected English Writings of Sudhindranath Datta. Compiled from the Sudhindranath Datta archives held by the School. Edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri. DC Publishers, Delhi, 2007.
- Atmajibani; athaba Satyer Sandhane. Bengali translation of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, by the late Kshitish Ray, with a preface by Shailesh Bandyopadhyay. This translation was read over All India Radio in the Gandhi Centenary year, but is being published for the first time. Edited by Swapan Majumdar. Dey’s Publishing, Kolkata, 2008.
- Sahitya Patrikay Rabindraprasanga. Collected material on Rabindranath from the journal Sahitya. Edited by Subha Chakrabarti Dasgupta, Sampa Chaudhuri and Smita Khator. Dey’s Publishing, Kolkata, 2009.
- Renaissance Reborn: In Search of a Historical Paradigm. Edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri. DC Publishers, Delhi, 2010.
The School has also extended its support to the publication of
- Atmakatha athaba satyer sandhane. Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography. Translated by Kshitish Ray. Published for the first time. Dey’s Publishing, Kolkata, 2008
- Derozio Remembered: Birth Bicentenary Volume. Edited by Sakti Sadhan Mukhopadhyay. Sources and Documents: Volume I, 1830-1947. Derozio Commemoration Committee, Kolkata, 2008
- Fiona Ross, The Printed Bengali Character and Its Evolution, revised edition with additional chapter and expanded bibliography. Sahitya Samsad, Kolkata, 2009
Ekada o Ami: Shakti Chattopadhyayer sange kichhu muhurta. Interviews, readings, speeches and conversation by the late poet Shakti Chattopadhyay.