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Literatures of the World--Panelist Francesca Orsini Presents Her Paper

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Item Summary

Title: Literatures of the World--Panelist Francesca Orsini Presents Her Paper
Authors: Orsini, Francesca
Keywords: Francesca Orsini
Literatures of the World
world literature
North India
show 75 moreworld literature courses
Asian literatures
African literatures
world literature theory
oral performances in India
theater and music in India
investigating what literature is
history of literature
folk literature
oral performance
literary performances in the vernacular
vernacular manuscripts
song transcriptions
social protests
philological method
collective authorship
multilingual literary history
orality of performance
politics of the archive
intermediary genres
"Song of the Twelve Seasons"
seasonal songs and the oral repertoire
Wajid Ali Shah
Last king of Oudh
technology of print and its relationship orature
colonial scholars and administrators
folklore and linguistic specimens
Sadhana Naithani
folklore in India
folklore in Africa
colonial administrators as publishers
George Abraham Pearson
linguistic survey of India
history of Hindi literature
literature and folklore
rural oral world and urban intellectualism
rural versus urban
 perceived frailty of performance and orality
danger of oral transmission
cooptation of folk forms
commercialization of oral forms and folk forms
Maila Anchal
Phaneshwar Nath Renu
Phaṇīśvaranātha Reṇu
“The Soiled Border”
Rajasthani writers
Intizar Husain
Buddhist Jataka tales
South Asia
how contemporary writers draw on oral forms
appropriation of oral artists
making space for oral artists in contemporary literature
oral epics
oral composition
A.K. Ramanujan

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Issue Date: 24 Jun 2013
Abstract: The invention of folk literature/loksahitya
by Francesca Orsini (SOAS, London)

One of the tasks that world literature requires is to pluralise our assumptions about what literature is, and to widen its remit. Oral-performative genres feature significantly in our understandings of Indian literary history (whether devotional song-poems, Barahmasas/ “12-months songs” by all kinds of poets, including Urdu poets, tales, etc.). They stand at the beginnings of the process of “vernacularization” of Indian regional literary cultures between the second half of first and second millenniums CE, but also acted in dynamics of literary circulation, both across languages and scripts and also across oral and literate realms. The study of the production and circulation of these oral-performative genres has generated its own philological method (J.S. Hawley, K.S. Bryant, C.L. Novetzke et al.). Yet while some of the earliest colonial scholars of Indian vernacular languages and literatures (like George Grierson) recorded and studied a great number of these forms, they classified them as “folklore” rather than literature. Similarly Indian literary activists collected folk songs and sayings with verve, but viewed them as loksahitya, the expression of a timeless (and casteless) “folk”. The situation now is that oral-performative forms are studied largely by ethnographers (Ann Gold, Susan Wadley, Kirin Narayan) rather than as part of literature (exceptions like Stuart Blackburn and Rich Freeman and Narayana Rao notwithstanding). This paper will trace this development and ask how, with the pluralising of literature that comes with world literature, the process can be reversed, and what now counts as loksahitya can be viewed as part of sahitya or literature.
Rights: CC0 1.0 Universal
Appears in Collections:Words in the World Panel Discussions

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