2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

The Past in a Portrait: Agha Shahid Ali's "Cracked Portraits" and its Construction of History
Alex C. Senger
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Agha Shahid Alis poem, Cracked Portraits, drives the reader deeply into the notion of history and memory. His recollection of ancestry, confined to the decaying portraits on the walls and the limited stories of his ancestors youth explore a sample of the minutiae of everyday life. In exploring the complexity of the in-between, the difference between the portraits and the reality of his ancestors lives, an understanding history can be constructed. Through Alis examination of the portraits of past, cracked and weathered by age, he develops a thematic directive: namely to illuminate the nuances of these individuals. However, as Ali approaches the tinted reality presented to him, unassailable issues of identity emerge, allowing him to confront the glaring realities of colonialism, faith, and life in a new and direct way.

Keywords: Agha Shahid Ali, Cracked, Portraits, Colonialism, Kashmir

Topic(s):Asian Studies
English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 2-2
Location: VH 1236
Time: 8:15

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