Dalit Literature: A Critical

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline CoreSOL2EN3244

Course Coordinator and Team: Bodh Prakash

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: This course will familiarize students with the political and cultural context in which Dalit literature as a distinct domain of knowledge production emerged in modern India. Dalit literature serves as a platform for Dalit articulation in addressing political concerns and achieving Dalit emancipatory goals. Students would be introduced to different forms of Dalit literature such as novels, poems, short stories, essays, plays, and autobiographies to examine how the varied forms of Dalit cultural expressions contribute to the project of Dalit emancipation. Dalit literature challenges the mainstream literary conventions and lays emphasis on the social relevance and politics of art and literature. Students will also be introduced to some of the important debates in Dalit literary criticism.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules: The course will be transacted through the following modules.

Module I: Emergence of Dalit consciousness, politics and literary expression: Historical overview

Module II: Dalit aesthetics: Select chapters from the following texts will be taken up in this module:

Government Bhrahmana by Arvind Malagatti

Sharankumar Limbale: Towards an Aesthetics of Dalit Literature

Satyanarayana, K and Susie Tharu Ed. The Exercise of Freedom. New Delhi: Navayana, 2013.

“Introduction: Dalit Literature Past, Present and Future.” Arjun Dangle Ed. Poisoned Bread

Module III: Gender and Caste: Selections from some of the following texts will be taken up for discussion in class

“Periyar, Women and Ethic of Citizenship” by V Geetha

“Conceptualizing Brahmanical Patriarchy in Early India: Gender, Caste, Class and State” by Umma Chakravarthy.

Caste and gender: Understanding dynamics of power and violence” by Kannabiran, Vasanth and Kalpana Kannabiran.

Module IV: Literary expressions: (At least one memoir/ autobiography, one novel, the play and the film So will be taken up in class)

Novels/ Memoirs/ Autobiography

Sharan Kumar Limbale: The Outcaste: Akkarmashi

Perumal Murugan: Seasons of the Palm

Urmila Pawar: The Weave of My Life

Omprakash Valmiki: Joothan: A Dalit Life Story.

Rohinton Mistry: A Fine Balance


U R Anantamurthy: Samskara

Film: The Bandit Queen

The following texts (apart from other primary texts in the reading list) may be taken up by students in their presentations:

Film: Pariyerum Perumal

Poetry: Namdeo Dasal, Sukirtharani, Dr Bhaga Manga MS and Dr Mhera Mohan FRCS by Neerav Patel, A Dalit woman in the land of Goddesses

Case Study of Breast Tax in Kerala

Assessment Details with weights:

S.No.AssessmentDate/period in which Assessment will take placeWeightage
1Class AssignmentLast Week of January/ First Week of February20%
2Mid Semester ExamAs per AUD Calendar25%
3PresentationLast Week of March25%
4Term PaperThird Week of April30%

The pattern of assessment is subject to revision depending on the composition and size of the class.

Reading List:

  • Anand, Mulk Raj and Eleanor Zelliot, eds. An Anthology of Dalit Literature. New Delhi: Gyan, 1992.
  • Dangle, Arjun, ed. Poisoned Bread: Translations from Modern Marathi Dalit Literature. New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1992.
  • Susie Tharu and K. Satyanarayana (Ed). “No Alphabet in Sight: New Dalit Writing” from South India Dossier 1: Tamil and Malayalam. Delhi: Penguin: 2011.
  • Gunasekaran, K. A. The Scar. Trans. V. Kadambari. Chennai: Orient Blackswan, 2009.
  • Bama. Karukku. Trans. Lakshmi Holmström. Chennai: Macmillan, 2000.
  • ---. Sangati: Events. Trans. Lakshmi Holmström. New Delhi: OUP, 2005.
  • Jadhav, Narendra. Outcaste: A Memoir. New Delhi: Viking, 2003.
  • Kamble, Baby. The Prisons We Broke. Trans. Maya Pandit. Chennai: Orient Longman, 2008.
  • Limbale, Sharan Kumar. The Outcaste: Akkarmashi. Trans. Santosh Bhoomkar. New Delhi: OUP, 2003.
  • Mane, Laxman. Upara: An Outsider. Trans. A. K. Kamat. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1997.
  • Gaikwad, Lakshman. The Branded: Uchalya. Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1998.
  • Sivakami, P. The Grip of Change and Author’s Notes. Chennai: Orient Longman, 2006.
  • Sudhakar, Yendluri. Mallemoggala Godugu: Madiga Kathalu. Hyderabad: Dandora, 1999.
  • Kalyanarao,G. Untouchable Spring. Trans. Alladi Uma and M. Sridhar. Chennai: Orient Blackswan, 2010.
  • M. Vinodini. Fifth Pulley. Published in Tutun Mukherjee (Ed.) Staging Resistance: Plays by Women in Translation. Delhi: OUP, 2004.
  • Sharmila Rege ed. Writing Caste/Writing Gender: Narrating Dalit Women’s Testimonies
  • K. Satyanarayana and Susie Tharu ed. The Exercise of Freedom: An Introduction to Dalit Writing
  • B.R. Ambedkar. Annihilation of Caste