Anupam Chatterjee

New Delhi, India.

I admit that in this famous philosophical debate, I always wanted to be a hedgehog, but deep inside I have always known that I am a fox instead. My interests are many, ranging from Native American sovereignty issues to migratory habits of birds to theories of creativity and identity. My intellectual development reflects those varied interests; the journey to Northeastern Illinois University’s graduate program in English has not been quick or direct for me.
Looking back at high school, I see a student conflicted between selecting a science-oriented path and choosing among the liberal arts. I did not understand why we had to select our destinies at the same age we discovered the opposite sex, encountered family distress, and started learning about various academic options. Nonetheless, I followed the traditional path and allowed the system to mandate a specialized path. I chose English because I knew of writers like Vladimir Nabokov who maintained a lively scientific interest in butterflies, Margaret Atwood who demonstrated great emotional depth and understanding and also knowledge of Canadian flora and fauna, and Diane Ackerman whose books lyrically explained scientific processes and patterns. If these writers could exist in both the scientific and the literary worlds, then I knew it was possible for me to do so as well. I maintained my enthusiasm for and interest in science, but I found as I gained more exposure to writers and their works, I was drawn more towards the well-crafted turn of phrase rather than a particular scientific discipline.
Because of my developing interest in writing and literature, I decided to study English as a formal discipline. I attended Roosevelt University and gained exposure to writers of both the established and alternative canons. I found myself particularly drawn to works in which the protagonist struggles to find spiritual meaning in an otherwise broken world, often forging a separate and new identity apart from the identity created by family, friends, and society. Margaret Atwood’s novel Surfacing resonated with me as it called into question the genesis and nature of human memory and reminiscences. I explored and intensively studied Atwood’s works, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I also discovered Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, a chronicle of mental and societal breakdown and one woman’s therapeutic journey back from the madness. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles followed a similar path through mora

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