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Kamran Asdar Ali, Director WCH 4.132, Mailcode G9300, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-3550

Spring 2011 South Asia Seminar Series

Thu, March 3, 2011 • 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM • WCH 4.118

Priyamvada Gopal, Cambridge University

Priyamvada Gopal, Cambridge University

"The Other's Tongue: Separateness, Hybridity, and the Literary Politics of the Anglophone"

About the Series

At the end of the twentieth century, debates about South Asian literature still circulated around two main themes: the problematic "authenticity" of globally marketed Anglophone writing and the putative "provinciality" of writing in the bhasha (or vernacular) languages. But in the last decade, there have been a number of new trends which add new textures to this simplified problematic: the rise of an Anglophone reading public specific to the subcontinent with its own popularly recognized figures, the marketing of bhasha styles in popular western cultural forms, the growing popularity of south Asian writing from outside of India (especially Pakistan and Bangladesh), new opportunities for collaboration between artists in various languages in the subcontinent, the growth of vernacular literary traditions in electronic media, and the new global crisis in publishing which has also contracted certain reading publics. This seminar series will explore the changing social contexts in south Asia and the world that affected reading publics and their relationship to new trends in South Asian writing in many languages. Regular seminars occur on Thursdays at 3:30 pm, preceded by a reception at 3:00 pm, in the Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118).

About the Talk

The field of postcolonial literary studies is one that, in its most influential incarnations, has presented itself as constitutively avant-garde. As magical realism came to be seen as the most fundamentally innovative dimension of postcolonial literature, a postmodern aesthetic of fragmentation, linguistic play, anti-realism and generic mixing achieved critical primacy. Theories of literary and cultural 'hybridity' as weapons of discursive subversion were mirrored in multilingual wordplay and thus became the currency of (Anglophone) postcolonial literature's avant-gardism. This paper examines different modes (and historical moments) of the 'breaking' and 'remaking' English in Anglophone poetry and fiction in India to argue that as a generic term to discuss experimentation in poetic language, 'hybridity' is ultimately a blunt instrument, too diffuse a critical term to allow for a proper attention to the specific innovations and ambitions of these literary engagements with English. While theories of hybridity in literature and language have been correct in their apprehension of the general phenomenon of linguistic mixing, they suffer less from an inattention to cultural or linguistic specificity than a failure to address the *politics* of language in a historicized manner, specifically, the ways in which English is deployed and treated very differently by different writers both across postcolonial contexts and even within a fairly circumscribed Anglophone context like India.

About the Speaker

Research Interests:

Colonial and postcolonial literatures in English; fiction and poetry in Hindi/Urdu; Asian American and British Asian literatures; the novel; translation; postcolonial theory; gender and feminism; empire, politics and culture; Marxism and critical theory; the politics and cultures of globalisation; diasporas and immigrant cultures. Published work includes Literary Radicalism in India: gender, nation and the transition to Independence (Routledge, 2005, After Iraq: Reframing Postcolonial Studies (Special issue of New Formations co-edited with Neil Lazarus) and The Indian English Novel: Nation, History and Narration (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Areas of Graduate Supervision:

All of the above areas and related topics.Contributes to teaching and/or supervision for the American MPhil and the MPhil in Criticism and Culture.See:http://www.english.cam.ac.uk/postgraduate/

See Dr Priyamvada Gopal's entry in the University Lookup database. (Raven login required)

Selected Publications:

  • Priya Gopal, "The 'Moral Empire': Africa, Globalisation and the Politics of Conscience", New Formations: a Journal of Culture/Theory/Politics, ed. Priyamvada Gopal and Neil Lazarus 59, 2006, 81-97
  • Priya Gopal, Literary Radicalism in India: Gender, Nation and the Transition to Independence, Routledge, 2005, 173
  • Priya Gopal, "Reading Subaltern History", Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies, Ed. Neil Lazarus, Cambridge University Press, 2004, 139-161
  • Priya Gopal, "Amitav Ghosh", World Writers in English, Ed. Jay Parini, New York: Gale, 2004
  • Priya Gopal, "Sex, Space and Modernity in the Work of Rashid Jahan, 'Angareywali'", Marxism, Modernity and Postcolonialism, Cambridge University Press, 2002, 150-66
  • Priya Gopal, "'Frantz Fanon, Feminisim and the Question of Relativism'", New Formations 47 (Summer 2002), 2002, 38-43
  • Priya Gopal, "'Curious Ironies: Matter and Meaning in Bhabani Bhattacharya's Novel of the 1943 Bengal Famine", ARIEL: A Review of International English Literatures 32:3, July 01, 2001, 61-88
  • Priya Gopal, "'Nationalist thought and the Postcolonial world'", Textual Practice Spring 2001, 2001, 173-79
  • Priya Gopal, "Dangerous Bodies: Masculinity and Morality in Manto's 'Cold Meat'", The Partitions of Memory: The Afterlife of the Division of India, Permanent Black Press and Indiana University Press, 2001, 242-268
  • Priya Gopal, "'Women Writing in India'", 16 Nos 1-2, 1994

Sponsored by: South Asia Institute


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