March 25, 2010

Writing Histories of Modern Indian Languages
Edited by Hans Harder

400 pp 215x140 mm Hardback
Published price Rs 695
ISBN 978-81-87358-33-6
Tentative Pub Date March 2010

‘This volume takes on…big questions, making a sophisticated and significant contribution to the great tradition of assessing the emergence of literary modernity in South Asia.’- Vasudha Dalmia, Professor of Hindi and Chair of the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California

Also available as ebook at:

Writing histories of literature means making selections, passing value judgments, and incorporating or rejecting foregoing traditions. The book argues that in many parts of India, literary histories play an important role in creating a cultural ethos. They are closely linked with nationalism in general and various regional ‘sub-nationalisms’ in particular.

Literary historiography helps to establish a national literature in a way that is not always unproblematic: systematic representation of literary works and authors is as much part of this story as conscious omissions or political spins in the making of a literary heritage.The contributors to this volume look at a great variety of aspects of the historiography of modern regional languages of India. The approach excludes classical languages of India from this approach, except Tamil which is considered a modern and a classical language at the same time. It includes the late yet undoubtedly successful arrival of English in the nation’s literary corpus.

Hans Harder teaches Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, Germany.

Introduction - Hans Harder
1. Shaping a Literary Space: Early Literary Histories in Malayalam and Normative Uses of the Past - Udaya Kumar
2 Drowning in the Ocean of Tamil: Islamic Texts and the Historiography of Tamil Literature - Torsten Tschacher
3. From Scattered Archives to the Centre of Discourse: Histories of Telugu Literature in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - Heiko Frese
4. Beyond the Nation: A Comparatist’s Thoughts on some Foundational Categories in the Literary Historiography of ‘Post’-colonial South Asian Literatures- Ipshita Chanda
5. Dinesh Chandra Sen’s ‘The Folk Literature of Bengal’: The Canonization of Folk and the Conception of the Feminine - Sourav Kargupta
6. Ethics or Aesthetics? Obscenity as a Category for Evaluating the Hindi Public Sphere in Colonial North India - Charu Gupta

7. George Abraham Grierson’s Literary Hindustan - Ira Sarma
8. The Impact of Sectarian Lobbyism on Hindi Literary Historiography: The Fascinating Story of Bhagvadacharya Ramanandi - Purushottam Agrawal
9. The Politics of Exclusion?: The Place of Muslims, Urdu and its Literature in Ramchandra Shukla’s ‘Hindi Sahitya ka Itihas’ - Navina Gupta
10. A Discourse of Difference: ‘Syncretism’ as a Category in Indian Literary History -
Thomas de Bruijn11. Unscripted: The People of Arunachal Pradesh in Literary and other National Histories - Stuart Blackburn
12. Indian Literature in English and the Problem of Naturalisation - Hans Harder
13. The Mahatma as Proof: The Nationalist Origins of the Historiography of Indian Writing in English - Snehal Shingavi

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