Gitanjali, or ‘The Song Offerings’, the iconic poetry collection from Indian literary giant Rabindranath Tagore, won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Comprising 157 poems, Gitanjali is a reflection of Tagore’s consciousness, wisdom and philosophy. 

During this discussion, experts including Open University art lecturer Dr Samuel Shaw, Professor of World Literature Elleke Boehmer and Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies Director Bashabi Fraser will explore Tagore’s poetry and his unlikely relationship with British painter and Manningham local Sir William Rothenstein, who was responsible for bringing Tagore’s work to western eyes, leading to an English translation and, ultimately, a Nobel Prize win.

In this rare event, join us to hear Tagore’s words as they resonate through the ages. 

About The Speakers

Headshot of Samuel Shaw in black and White

Samuel Shaw

Samuel Shaw is Lecturer in History of Art at the Open University. He specialises in art and exhibition culture in Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a particular interest in the 1890s and 1900s. He has written, and curated exhibitions, on a variety of themes, not the least the life and work of the Bradford-born artist William Rothenstein (1872-1945). He helped organise the exhibition From Bradford to Benares: The Art of William Rothenstein (Cartwright Hall Gallery, 2015), and will be publishing a book on Rothenstein and cosmopolitan identity later this year.

Headshot of Dr Bashabi Fraser

Dr Bashabi Fraser

Dr Bashabi Fraser, CBE is Professor Emerita of English and Creative Writing and Director of Scottish Centre of Tagore Studies (ScoTs), Edinburgh Napier University, Honorary Fellow, Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh and of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS) and Consultant, Royal Literary Fund. Bashabi is an award-winning poet, children’s writer, editor and academic. She is the recipient of a CBE (2021 New Year Honours) for Education (academic work), culture (poetry) and cultural integration (her bridge building projects linking Scotland and India). She has been declared Outstanding Woman of Scotland by Saltire Society in 2015.  Her most recent award is the Maheshwar Neog IPPL Award for Poetry, 2022. 

Her work traverses continents. She has authored and edited 23 books, published several academic and creative articles, and been widely anthologized as a poet.  Her recent publications include Patient Dignity (2021), Rabindranath Tagore (2019) and The Ramayana, A Stage Play and a Screen Play (2017). Books in press include A Meeting of Two Minds: The Tagore-Geddes Letters, 4th revised edition, Lakshmi’s Footprints: The Scoto-Indian Interface (co-ed) and HABITAT, a poetry collection. She is the Chief Editor of the international peer-reviewed e-journal, Gitanjali and Beyond. 

Bashabi is a Trustee on the Board of Scottish PEN, an executive committee member of Poetry Association of Scotland, Writers at Risk and Writers for Peace Committees (Scotland), a Director on the Board of the Patrick Geddes Trust, a Trustee of the Kolkata Scottish Heritage Trust, and Honorary Vice President of the ASLS. Bashabi is on the Editorial Board of several international peer-reviewed journals and has been an Adjudicator for several national and international creative writing competitions. Right now, she is on the panel of judges for the Kavya Prize, initiated this year as a major Scottish literary prize. 

About The Author

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Elleke Boehmer

Elleke Boehmer FRSL FRHistS FEA is Professor of World Literature in the English Faculty, University of Oxford, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College. Recent work includes Postcolonial Poetics (2018) and Indian Arrivals 1880-1915: Networks of British Empire (2015), which won the ESSE biennial prize 2015-16. Her biography of Nelson Mandela 2008 has been widely translated, as has Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995, 2005). Elleke’s Boehmer’s fiction includes To the Volcano (2019) and The Shouting in the Dark (2015), co-winner of the EASA Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose, 2018. She is an Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford.