Landscapes of a Lyric Empire

Key information

3:15 pm to 5:00 pm
Brunei Gallery

About this event

Dr Fatima Burney (SOAS)

This talk will present the comparative poetics of Sir William Jones to demonstrate the role of orientalist readings of ghazals in the history of lyricization. Jones was one of the first litterateurs to treat ‘lyrick’ as a universal category and to translate Persian ghazals as ‘lyricks’ - a designation which has remained within ghazal scholarship and comparative models of literary reading to this day. Jones also published several essays on ‘asiatick’ literature that significantly influenced the reception of Persian poetry in English reading publics. This talk highlights the significance of ‘nature’ as a conceptual paradigm in Jones theory of universal poetic form. While Jones’ insistence on the ‘rustic’ genius of ‘asiatick’ poetry was certainly helpful in promoting Persian (and Arabic) poetry to European readers, it entailed converting the products of a cosmopolitan Persianate writing network into objects of a rustic proto-European literary practice.

Dr. Fatima Burney is a Postdoctoral Research fellow at the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies at SOAS. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California Los Angeles in 2017. Fatima’s doctoral dissertation compares Anglophone and Urdu literary romantic movements in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, particularly in their reception and representation of ghazal poetry. At SOAS, Fatima’s research will focus on the North Indian case study of the Multilingual Locals and Significant Geographies research project.