Genealogies of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSOL3CL0014

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon 2018
Course Coordinator and Team:Prof. Radha Chakravarty and Dr Shad Naved
Email of course coordinator:radha[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in
Pre-requisites: None
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.
Course Outcomes:
On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Engage with key concepts and debates through cross-cultural and cross-historical approaches.
  2. Articulate their research interests throughthe related practices of comparativism and translation.
  3. Work with interdisciplinary and multilingual contexts.

Brief description of modules/ Main 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 lyric and life-writing as genres that have travelled and evolved across historical and cultural geographies.
Module 4: Literary Critical Lexicons
This module has two parts. The first introduces key vocabulary and concepts from western (Greek, Latin and Renaissance) and eastern (Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Arabo-Persian and Urdu) poetics. The second is 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 presentation: 40%
  • 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 DjelalKadir. 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. Toni Morrison.The Bluest Eye  Toni Morrison.Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1992.
Module 3:

  • Novel: Anita Desai. In Custody
  • Life Writing: Selections.
  • Poetry: Selections from different genres.

Module 4:
a) Readings

  • G.N. Devy. “The Oral, the Written and Memory: A History of Indian Aphasia.” 274-283.
  • IndraNathChoudhuri. “Towards an Indian Theory of Translation.”Literary Culture and Translation. 181—194.  Eric Auerbach. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953.

(b) Re-readings

  • A.K. Ramanujan, ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’. In Collected Essays.  SharankumarLimbale, 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.


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

Das, Sisir K. Sahibs and Munshis: An Account of the College of Fort William. New Delhi: Orion Publications, 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 of Hafiz. Cambridge: University Press, 1962.

Milton/Michael MadhusudhanDutt: 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 =: MeghnādbadhKābya. New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2010.

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

  • Conrad/TyebSalih: 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.
  • G.N. Devy, ed. Indian Literary Criticism. Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2010. [selections]  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.  IrawatiKarve, Yugānta: The End of an Epoch. Original Marathi version published in 1967. Hyderabad: Disha Books, 1991.  GayatriSpivak,’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.