SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Orature, Literature and History: Exploring Northern Indian Popular Culture (19c-20c) - PART 2


Date: 30 May 2018Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 30 May 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B101

Type of Event: Workshop

bidesiya - CCLPS - IMG 485 186 56

In this week-long course, Prof Catherine Servan-Schreiber (CEIAS, Paris) and Camille Buat (Sciences Po, Paris and University of Göttingen) will explore the living traditions in the Bhojpuri language of Northern India. They will share their methodologies for studying the circulation of Bhojpuri texts, singers, and labourers. Exploring the interface between literature and history, they propose to look at the texts simultaneously as objects and sources for historical study.

How does awareness of contemporary orature change the way we approach historical texts? How can we use these texts as sources to write a history of the region which produced them? How can we use narrative patterns to compare distant forms of orature? And how can we make orature seriously part of the study of world literature?

Part II. The History of contemporary orature & Reading Texts in the context of orature

Catherine Servan-Schreiber will present some of the characteristics of the North India’s premodern oral and written texts through their most famous trends: the Gorakhnath renunciation cycle, the Rajput heroic corpus, the transgressive romance, and the wandering merchant tradition. She will especially focus on premodern testimonies on Sati, widow’s (self-) immolation. Reading these texts while keeping performance in mind and looking at the interaction between the performers and the audience can bring new perspectives on questions of inequality and gender. Disruptive images used during the performance enable us to understand how these premodern repertoires become reference texts mobilized through each period of transition in the regional history of North India.