Professor Francesca Orsini
BA (Venice), PhD (London)
Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature
Member, Centre of Jaina Studies
Academic Staff, SOAS South Asia Institute
Academic Staff, Centre for the Study of Pakistan
- Professor Francesca Orsini
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- SOAS, University of London
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Francesca Orsini is Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature. She took her undergraduate degree in Hindi at the University of Venice, followed by a long spell in Delhi. Her PhD research at SOAS was on the Hindi public sphere of the 1920s and '30s, published as The Hindi Public Sphere 1920-1940: Language and Literature in the Age of Nationalism (OUP Delhi 2002, Hindi tr. Vani 2010). She taught at the University of Cambridge for several years and joined SOAS in 2006, where she teaches courses on Hindi language, literature, the literary history of South Asia, and contemporary politics of culture.
Professor Orsini's research interests span modern and contemporary Hindi literature; popular literature in Hindi and Urdu such as detective novels, romantic fiction, and barahmasas; women writers and women's journals; book history and nineteenth-century commercial publishing in Hindi and Urdu; the multiligual history of literature in early modern North India. She has organized several workshops and conferences, including one on Love in South Asia (CUP 2006).
Her most recent book, Print and Pleasure (Permanent Black 2010), explored the genres of commercial publishing in nineteenth-century north India, while the collection she edited on Hindi and Urdu Before the Divide (Orient Blackswan 2009) proposed ways of approaching Hindi and Urdu literary genres not as watertight traditions but as possibilities within the multilingual literary and linguistic world of early modern North India.
Between 2006 and 2009 she ran a research project on "North Indian Literary Culture and History, 1450-1650", funded by the AHRC. The project sought to rethink the history of north Indian literature from a sustained multilingual perspective, and included a series of seminars, workshops, and 3 annual conferences. Two volumes of proceedings are going to be published: After Timur Left (co-edited with Samira Sheikh, forthcoming from OUP New Delhi in 2014) surveys political formations and cultural production and circulation in fifteenth-century North India. Tellings and Texts (co-edited with Katherine Schofield) contains essays on music, story-telling and performance in Persian, Braj Bhasha, Hindavi, Bengali, Newari, etc. and seeks to make an argument about the interconnectedness and complexity of north Indian performance traditions and their importance to the understanding of cultural, social and political history.
At present she is working on two projects: an international collaboration with SARAI/CSDS (New Delhi) on Hinglish, funded by the British Academy; and a new project on a multilingual history of Awadh that seeks at the same time to engage with current models of world literature by offering a ground-up perspective that is mindful of local audiences and of multiple levels of literary production and circulation. In 2013-2014 she is a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.
- BA South Asian Studies and… (4 years)
- MA Languages and Cultures of South Asia
- MA South Asian Area Studies
- Directed Readings in a South Asian Literature or Culture (Hindi)
- Directed Readings in the Literature of a Modern South Asian Language
- Hindi Language 4
- Hindi Language 4 (Postgraduate)
- Literature & Colonialism in North India
- Narratives of Mobility in Contemporary Hindi Literature
PhD Students supervised
- Chinmay Sharma, The Mahabharata re-constructed for Hindi and English publics: modernity and the 'national epic'
- Eleanor Halsall, The Indo-German beginnings of Bombay Talkies, 1925-1939
- Helen Ashton, Listening to Indian Accented English in Film (1960-2013)
- Maddalena Italia, The erotic untranslatable: the modern reception of Sanskrit love poetry in the West and in India
- Priyanka Basu, ‘Cockfight in Tune: Reading Nations, Communities and Performance in the “Bengali” Kobigaan’
- Rasha Chatta, Marginality and Individuation in Literary Discourse: Theorising Contemporary Migrant Literature through the Example of Arab Migrant Writing
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- South Asia
Orsini, Francesca (2009) Print and Pleasure: Popular literature and entertaining fictions in colonial north India. New Delhi: Permanent Black.
Orsini, Francesca (2002) The Hindi Public Sphere 1920-1940. Language and Literature in the Age of Nationalism. Oxford University Press.
Orsini, Francesca, ed. (2013) The History of the Book in South Asia. London: Ashgate. (History of the Book in the East)
Orsini, Francesca, ed. (2010) Before the Divide: Hindi and Urdu literary culture. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.
Orsini, Francesca, ed. (2006) Love in South Asia: a cultural history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (University of Cambridge Oriental Publications)
Orsini, Francesca (2010) '“Krishna is the Truth of Man” Mir ‘Abdul Wahid Bilgrami's Haqā’iq-i Hindī (Indian Truths) and the circulation of dhrupad and bishnupad.' In: Busch, Allison and de Bruijn, Thomas, (eds.), Culture and Circulation. Leiden: Brill. (Forthcoming)
Orsini, Francesca (2006) 'Love Letters.' In: Orsini, F., (ed.), Love in South Asia. A Cultural History. Cambridge University Press, pp. 228-258.
Orsini, Francesca (2004) 'Detective Novels. A Commercial Genre in Nineteenth-Century North India.' In: Blackburn, S. and Dalmia, V., (eds.), India's Literary History. Essays on the Nineteenth Century. Permanent Black, pp. 435-482.
Orsini, Francesca (2004) 'The Reticent Autobiographer. Mahadevi Varma's Writings.' In: Arnold, D. and Blackburn, S., (eds.), Telling Lives in India. Biography, Autobiography, and Life History. Permanent Black, pp. 54-82.
Orsini, Francesca (2004) 'Introduction.' In: Rai, Alok, (ed.), Oxford India Premchand. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-14.
Orsini, Francesca (2004) 'Pandits, Printers and Others: Publishing in nineteenth-century Benares.' In: Gupta, Abhijit and Chakravorty, Swapan, (eds.), Print Areas: Book history in India. New Delhi: Permanent Black, pp. 103-138.
Orsini, Francesca (2012) 'How to do multilingual literary history? Lessons from fifteenth- and sixteenth-century north India.' Indian Economic and Social History Review, 49 (2). pp. 225-246.
Orsini, Francesca (2006) 'Cannons and Rubber boats: Oriana Fallaci and the 'Clash of Civilizations'.' Interventions International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 8 (3). pp. 444-460.
Orsini, Francesca (2005) 'A Review Symposium.' Indian Economic and Social History Review, 42 .
Orsini, Francesca (2002) 'India in the Mirror of World Fiction.' New Left Review (13). pp. 75-88.