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Nature in Hindi Poetry and Criticism, 1885-1925
Explores the transformation of Hindi poetry as it reflects a changing society during the period from 1885-1925. Kama’s Flowers documents the transformation of Hindi poetry during the crucial period of 1885-1925. As Hindi was becoming a national language and Indian nationalism was emerging, Hindi authors articulated a North Indian version of modernity by revisioning Nature. While their writing has previously been seen as an imitation of European Romanticism, Valerie Ritter shows its unique and particular function in North India. Description of the natural world recalled traditional poetics, particularly erotic and devotional poetics, but was now used to address socio-political concerns, as authors created literature to advocate for a “national character” and to address a growing audience of female readers. Examining Hindi classics, translations from English poetry, literary criticism, and little-known popular works, Ritter combines translations with fresh literary analysis to show the pivotal role of nature in how modernity was understood. Bringing a new body of literature to English-language readers, Kama’s Flowers also reveals the origins of an influential visual culture that resonates today in Bollywood cinema.
This first book-length study in Chinese or any Western language of personal letters and letter-writing in premodern China focuses on the earliest period (ca. 3rd-6th cent. CE) with a sizeable body of surviving correspondence. Along with the translation and analysis of many representative letters, Antje Richter explores the material culture of letter writing (writing supports and utensils, envelopes and seals, the transportation of finished letters) and letter-writing conventions (vocabulary, textual patterns, topicality, creativity).
Reconstructions from South Asia
A grand synthesis of unprecedented scope, Literary Cultures in History is the first comprehensive history of the rich literary traditions of South Asia. Together these traditions are unmatched in their combination of antiquity, continuity, and multicultural complexity, and are a unique resource for understanding the development of language and imagination over time. In this unparalleled volume, an international team of renowned scholars considers fifteen South Asian literary traditions—including Hindi, Indian-English, Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Urdu—in their full historical and cultural variety.
The volume is united by a twofold theoretical aim: to understand South Asia by looking at it through the lens of its literary cultures and to rethink the practice of literary history by incorporating non-Western categories and processes. The questions these seventeen essays ask are accordingly broad, ranging from the character of cosmopolitan and vernacular traditions to the impact of colonialism and independence, indigenous literary and aesthetic theory, and modes of performance. A sophisticated assimilation of perspectives from experts in anthropology, political science, history, literary studies, and religion, the book makes a landmark contribution to historical cultural studies and to literary theory in addition to the new perspectives it offers on what literature has meant in South Asia.
(Available in South Asia from Oxford University Press--India)
Death, Trauma, and Lu Xun's Refusal to Mourn
Reading Lu Xun's Fiction
The book makes use of critical and cultural theory to consider these short stories in the context of not only Chinese fiction, but in terms of the art of the short story, and in relation to literary modernism. It attempts to put Lu Xun into as wide a perspective as possible for contemporary reading. To make his work widely accessible, he is treated here in English translation.
Globalization and the Emergence of Asian and African Literature in Spanish
The Magellan Fallacy argues that literature in Spanish from Asia and Africa, though virtually unknown, reimagines the supposed centers and peripheries of the modern world in fundamental ways. Through archival research and comparative readings, The Magellan Fallacy rethinks mainstream mappings of diverse cultures while advocating the creation of a new field of scholarship: global literature in Spanish. As the first attempt to analyze Asian and African literature in Spanish together, and doing so while ranging over all continents, The Magellan Fallacy crosses geopolitical and cultural borders without end. The implications of the book, therefore, extend far beyond the lands formerly ruled by the Spanish empire. The Magellan Fallacy shows that all theories of globalization, including those focused on the Americas and Europe, must be able to account for the varied significances of hispanophone Asia and Africa as well.
Mulan, the warrior maiden who performed heroic deeds in battle while dressed as a male soldier, has had many incarnations from her first appearance as a heroine in an ancient Chinese folk ballad. Mulan’s story was retold for centuries, extolling the filial virtue of the young woman who placed her father's honor and well-being above her own. With the publication of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior in the late 1970s, Mulan first became familiar to American audiences who were fascinated with the extraordinary Asian American character. Mulan’s story was recast yet again in the popular 1998 animated Disney film and its sequel.
In Mulan’s Legend and Legacy in China and the United States, Lan Dong traces the development of this popular icon and asks, "Who is the real Mulan?" and "What does authenticity mean for the critic looking at this story?" Dong charts this character’s literary voyage across historical and geographical borders, discussing the narratives and images of Mulan over a long time span—from premodern China to the contemporary United States to Mulan’s counter-migration back to her homeland.
As Dong shows, Mulan has been reinvented repeatedly in both China and the United States so that her character represents different agendas in each retelling—especially after she reached the western hemisphere. The dutiful and loyal daughter, the fierce, pregnant warrior, and the feisty teenaged heroine—each is Mulan representing an idea about female virtue at a particular time and place.
Defining the Japanese Self
Describes how writer Nagai Kafuµ (1879–1959) used his experience of the West to reconcile modernization and Japanese identity. Nagai Kafuµ (1879–1959) spent more time abroad than any other writer of his generation, firing the Japanese imagination with his visions of America and France. Applying the theoretical framework of Occidentalism to Japanese literature, Rachael Hutchinson explores Kafuµ’s construction of the Western Other, an integral part of his critique of Meiji civilization. Through contrast with the Western Other, Kafuµ was able to solve the dilemma that so plagued Japanese intellectuals—how to modernize and yet retain an authentic Japanese identity in the modern world. Kafuµ’s flexible positioning of imagined spaces like the “West” and the “Orient” ultimately led him to a definition of the Japanese Self. Hutchinson analyzes the wide range of Kafuµ’s work, particularly those novels and stories reflecting Kafuµ’s time in the West and the return to Japan, most largely unknown to Western readers and a number unavailable in English, along with his better-known depictions of Edo’s demimonde. Kafuµ’s place in Japan’s intellectual history and his influence on other writers are also discussed.
From his reporting on Islamic true believers to his descriptions of the postcolonial world, V. S. Naipaul has been a controversial figure in contemporary letters. Winner of the Nobel Prize, Naipaul has traveled throughout the world, looking at its varied cultures and seeking out others' stories, recording and transforming them. His engagement with postcolonial cultures informs his novels, such as Guerrillas and A Bend in the River. However, it is his documentaries (such as Among the Believers and Beyond Belief) and his works that combine actual and fictional histories and memories (Finding the Center, The Enigma of Arrival, and A Way in the World) that best exhibit a growing awareness of the complexities of cultural difference -- and the incompleteness and uncertainty of understanding "strangers." In this book, Dagmar Barnouw explores the sophisticated strategies and experimentations that Naipaul employs in his cultural critique and in his enterprise of learning about and documenting the enduring strangeness of this world.