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Volume 16

Heroes and Villains - Summer 2016

About the Issue

Torsa Ghosal

Written by
Torsa Ghosal

Torsa Ghosal is the Associate Editor of Papercuts magazine. She is the author of the novel, Open Couplets (2017), published by Yoda Press in India. Her poems and short stories have appeared in venues such as The Hindu BLink, Aaduna, Poydras Review, Unsplendid, Himal Southasian, and Muse India. She is also a researcher, specializing in narrative theories–-that is, the systematic study of the aesthetic experiences offered by stories across media–-and 20th-/21st- century experimental literary forms. Her critical and scholarly writings can be found in Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies, South Asian Review, Media-N: Journal of the New Media Caucus, Post Script, and Latinos and Narrative Media. In the past, she has assisted the editors of the journal, Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of post-1945 English literature at California State University, Sacramento.


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Volume 16 Theme and Cover Story


Of all character types we come across in literature from various cultures and historical periods, heroes and villains are most notable for steering the course of events and actions. They are also supposed to function as moral compasses for tales. When we solicited entries for Volume 16, focusing on the theme “Heroes and Villains,” we were looking for stories, poems, and essays that would explore these character types based on different genre traditions, social and political conditions. The content we are presenting not only accomplishes those goals but also complicates the notions of heroism and villainy. The authors of this volume stress the grey areas where it becomes increasingly difficult to tell heroes apart from villains and seemingly ordinary folk from larger-than-life heroic personae. We had novelist and columnist Bina Shah as the guest editor for this volume. Throughout the editorial process, Bina’s experience, insights, and suggestions guided us. The Papercuts team is thankful to Bina for her deep involvement with the selection, editing, and review of the content.

We sought a cover image to encapsulate this volume’s authors’ equivocal approach to heroism and villainy. Manchester based artist David Whitlam’s digital artwork “Duality,” featuring a gun-wielding figure who is neither marked as a hero or a villain but could be either, illustrates the ambivalence with which the two celebrated character types are treated in Volume 16. Inspired by the Surrealist Movement, Whitlam’s art tends to express the darkness of the subconscious. In this light, “Duality” traces back the outwardly manifestations of both heroic and villainous deeds to the psyche. Every figure in the image seems to possess multiple facets and indeed, multiple faces: a mask lurks beyond the figure whose arms are bolted together and we wonder whether we have a handcuffed criminal or a helpless hostage before us.

And thus, with this volume of Papercuts, we invite you – our readers – to straddle the thin line between the terrains of heroes and villains. Join our authors as they discover exciting and uncertain implications of these longstanding character types, especially with reference to the contemporary South Asian milieu.

DavidWhitlamDualityCover image for Papercuts Volume 16: Duality by David Whitlam



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