This essay analyzes women writing about their experience in the changing socio-cultural and political context of the early twentieth century and especially in the face of the global, national, and regional transformations that Kerala underwent. The essay argues that the short stories of Lalithambika Antharjanam subverted the popular representation of antharjanams in the early 20th century as impassive, oppressed, and vulnerable subjects and provided alternative ways to conceptualize an antharjanam as a feminist trailblazer with a strong voice of protest. Her writing exposes her first-hand experiences of gender discrimination practiced in families as related to her caste and family lineage. Thus, her literary expression is one of the first ventures in feminist writing that Malayalam literature witnessed. This article draws on the scholarship of Uma Chakravarti, Nur Yalman, and Michel Foucault, employing their theories on gender, sociology, psychoanalysis, and cultural and anthropological frameworks to explore women’s roles in their respective social groups. Furthermore, the works of Joan Watt and J. Devika are applied in this interpretation of works by women writers in twentieth-century Kerala.

Author Biography

Revathy Hemachandran (Author) is a research scholar pursuing her Ph.D. in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bits-Pilani (Hyderabad Campus). She has completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in English Literature at the University of Delhi and Ambedkar University, Delhi. Her research interests are trauma narratives, representation of the Malabar uprising in literature and popular culture, and cultural memory studies. She has published a book review, research articles, and a book chapter in Rupkatha Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, IUP Journal of English Studies, and Routledge. Email id: p20170018@hyderabad.bits-pilani.ac.in

Prof. Maya Vinai (Co-Author) works as an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at BITS-Pilani (Hyderabad Campus). Her current research is primarily focused on Indian Ocean literary, cultural, and historical studies in relation to the Malabar coastline. Her other research interests include temple art forms in South India, the representation of matrilineal communities in literature, food and culture in South Asian literature, and the impact of Dutch and Portuguese colonialism in South India. Her research work has been featured in several reputed journals and several book chapters with publishers like Penn State University Press (Anthropocene Series) and Routledge. Email id: mayavinai[at]hyderabad.bits-pilani.ac.in