Genealogies of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSOL3CL0014

Course Coordinator: Prof. Radha Chakravarty

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: This is a core course for researchers in Comparative Literature and Translation Studies. It specifies the meeting grounds between comparison and translation as literary-critical practices: in exemplary historical moments/scenes of translation that shape our literary pasts and presents; in the notion of “world literature” as promoted in Orientalist discourse as an organizing principle of literary writing and analysis; through genre theory looking at genres that have travelled and evolved across historical and cultural geographies; key moments in the development of the languages of literary criticism; and the idea of translation itself as intervention, especially in literary history, cultural critique and close reading.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules: The course has the following five modules:

Module 1: Invention of Translation: Scenes from History

Radiating from the nineteenth-century moment of linguistic and cultural translation, this module identifies exemplary moments/scenes of translation that shape our literary pasts and presents. Examples: Fort William College translations (early 19th c.); Arabic translation movement (c. 10th c.); Translatio in the Renaissance (c. 14th-15th c.); Rupantar and Anuvad; Bhakti poetries and orality; Bible translations in European & Indian History.

Module 2: Origins of “world literature”

This module critiques the idea of “world literature” as promoted in Orientalist discourse as an organizing principle of literary writing and analysis.

Module 3: Genres and their Migrancy

This module examines the novel, the poem and life-writing as genres that have travelled and evolved across historical and cultural geographies.

Module 4: Literary Critical Lexicons

This module addresses key vocabulary and concepts from western (Greek, Latin and Renaissance) and eastern (Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Arabo-Persian and Urdu) poetics through a reflection on these vocabularies and concepts by modern historians and critics. The module gives a historical sense of the development of the languages of literary criticism.

Module 5: Translational Approaches

This module presents the idea of translation as intervention, especially in literary history, cultural critique and close reading.

Assessment Details with weights:

Continuous evaluation based on:

  • Class participation (including presentations/response papers/class discussion): 20%
  • Seminar presentations: 30%
  • Final Paper: 40%

Reading List:

Module 1:

Das, Sisir K. “Comparative Literature in India: A Historical Perspective”. Literary Culture and Translation: New Aspects of Comparative Literature.. Dorothy M. Figueira and Chandra Mohan. Primus, 2017. 11-23.

Bhavya Tiwari. “Rabindranath Tagore’s Comparative World Literature. The Routledge Companion to World Literature. Ed. Theo D’hael, David Damrosch and Djelal Kadir. Routledge, 2012. 41-48.

Module 2:

Kabir and Rabindranath Tagore. Songs of Kabir. Project Gutenberg.

Kabir, and Arvind K. Mehrotra. Songs of Kabir. New York: New York Review Books,2011.

David Damrosch, ed. World Literature in Theory. Wiley/Blackwell, 2014. [Selections].

Toni Morrison. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination.

Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1992.

Module 3:

G.N. Devy, ed. Indian Literary Criticism. Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2010. 31-40.

John Frow “Reproducible Rubrics, and Everything You Need”: Genre Theory Today. PMLA 122:5 (October 2017), 1626-1634.

Selected texts from different genres, including fiction, poetry, drama and life writing.

Module 4:

a) Readings

Eric Auerbach. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953. 3-23.

(b) Re-readings

Edward Said, “Introduction” to the Fiftieth Anniversary edition of Mimesis. Princeton University Press. ix-xxxii.

Sharankumar Limbale, Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature: History, Controversies,

and Considerations. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 2004. 103-121.

Module 5:

Walter Benjamin. “The Task of the Translator: An introduction to the translation of Baudelaire’s Tableaux Parisiens.” 15-25.

Tejaswini Niranjana, Siting Translation: History, Post-Structuralism, and the Colonial Context. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. 1-46.

Suggested readings:

Curtius, Ernst R. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. New York: Pantheon Books, 1953.

Buddhadeva Bose, “Comparative Literature in India”. In Rosinka Chaudhuri, ed. An Acre of Green Grass and Other English Writings of Buddhadeva Bose. New Delhi: OUP, 2018. 199-212.

Das, Sisir K. Sahibs and Munshis: An Account of the College of Fort William. New Delhi: OrionPublications, 1978.

Gutas, Dimitri. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in

Baghdad and Early ʻabbāsid Society (2nd-4th/8th-10th Centuries). London: Routledge, 1998.

Goethe/Hafiz: Goethe, Johann W, Martin Bidney, and Peter A. Arnim. West-east Divan: The

Poems, with "notes and Essays" : Goethe's Intercultural Dialogues. Albany, N.Y: State

University of New York Press, 2010; Ḥāfez, Šams -D. M, and Arthur J. Arberry. Fifty Poems ofHafiz. Cambridge: University Press, 1962.

Milton/Michael Madhusudhan Dutt: Milton, John, and Gordon Teskey. Paradise Lost:

Authoritative Text, Sources and Backgrounds, Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005; Dutt,

Michael M, and William Radice. The Poem of the Killing of Meghnād =: Meghnādbadh Kābya. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2010.

Jane Austen/Edward Said: Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf, 1993.

Conrad/Tyeb Salih: Heart of Darkness/ Season of Migration to the North

Rousseau/Jacques Derrida (on Chinese): Essay on the Origins of Language/Of Grammatology.

Ovid/David Malouf: Metamorphosis/An Imaginary Life.

Adams, Hazard, ed. Critical Theory Since Plato. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971.

Narayana, Rao V, David D. Shulman, and Sanjay Subrahmanyam. Textures of Time:

Writing History in South India. New York: Other Press, 2003.

Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, Early Urdu Literary Culture and History.

Edward Said, Essays on Swift in The World, the Text and the Critic.

Kilito, Abdelfattah. The Author and His Doubles: Essays on Classical Arabic Culture.

Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 2001.

Irawati Karve, Yugānta: The End of an Epoch. Original Marathi version published in 1967.

Hyderabad: Disha Books, 1991.

Gayatri Spivak,’Translation as Culture’, Parallax, vol. 6, no. 1 (2000).Venuti, Lawrence. The

Translation Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 2004. [selections]

Trivedi, Harish. Colonial Transactions: English Literature and India. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995.

Ranjan Ghosh, “More than Global”. Thinking Literature Across Continents. By Ranjan Ghosh and J. Hillis Miller. Duke University Press, 2016. 113-133.