This is an innovative volume of essays situated at the intersection of at least three multi-disciplinary fields: postcolonial and subaltern theory; comparative literary analysis, especially with a South Asian and transnational focus; and the study of ‘alternative’ and ‘indigenous’ modernities. This definitive new work grounds the political insights of postcolonial and subaltern theory in close textual analysis and challenges readers to think in new ways about global modernity and local cultures. Focusing in part on Fakir Mohan Senapati’s ground-breaking late-19th century Oriya novel Chha Mana Atha Guntha (Six Acres and a Third), the volume’s comparative method suggests to readers non-ethnocentric and non-chauvinist ways of studying Indian literature. It de-emphasises regional literary histories, especially the construction of hoary pasts and glorious traditions, to focus instead on cross-regional clusters of historical and cultural meaning. The essays attempt in-depth interpretations instead of merely celebrating authors and their works. They challenge readers to think in new ways about global modernity and local cultures.
Satya P. Mohanty, the editor of the volume, is a Professor of English at Cornell University. He is one of the founders of the Future of Minority Studies (FMS) Research Project and the founding director of the FMS Summer Institute. His book, Literary Theory and the Claims of History, argues for a ‘post-positivist realist’ theory of culture and literature and introduces a new theory of social identity, especially minority identity. He has co-edited Identity Politics Reconsidered and The Future of Diversity. His areas of interest are literary criticism and theory, colonial and postcolonial studies, South Asian and comparative literature. His work shows his deep commitment to his bi-cultural background.
Introduction: Viewing Colonialism and Modernity through Indian Literature: Satya Mohanty I. Views from Below: Comparing Literary Perspectives
II. The Many Contexts of Six Acres and a Third
Appendix: Fair Without, Foul Within: Bahire Rongsong Bhitare Kowabhaturi: Hemchandra Barua List of Contributors Index
‘This volume of critical essays on colonialism and modernity revisits the episteme of “modernity” in a new way by taking into account its non-Western roots .... By combining a pragmatic and empirical approach with a vision of a possible theory of comparative literature born out of an encounter between indigenous and colonial forces, the central thesis of this volume provides a new orientation to comparative literary studies at the present time.’
- Prafulla Kar, Director, Centre for Contemporary Theory, Baroda and former Professor of English, University of Baroda
‘ ... This wonderfully stimulating collection of essays brings out the multiple facets of the novel with almost equal freedom by juxtaposing and comparing it to novels across time, regions, as well as cultures. Surely a first in postcolonial studies!’
- Vasudha Dalmia, Professor of Hindi and Modern South Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
‘The subaltern speaks in this path-breaking collection on comparative modernities and the interlocking literatures it spawned in the late- nineteenth-century colonial period .... Encompassing a variety of theoretical and historical approaches, the essays attest to Senapati's enduring significance while modeling a comparison that remaps transnational modernist studies.’
- Susan Stanford Friedman, Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison