SOAS University of London

South Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Narratives of Mobility in Contemporary Hindi Literature

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3 of 4 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Term 2

Post-1947 Hindi literature is full of narratives of mobility, change and transformation. While the conventional account speaks of a single journey into modernity, in the shape of alienated individuals, nuclear families and urban anomy (e.g. G. Roadarmel, ‘The Theme of Alienation in the Hindi Short Story’, and Death in Delhi), the reality thrown up by literature appears much more complex, ambivalent and messy. Whether it is the conflicting pulls of old and new gender identities, or the relationship between village and city and region and nation, or the tension between lower caste origin and middle class identity, contemporary Hindi literature offers a vivid picture of how change actually takes place in contemporary India.


Hindi Language 2 or equivalent

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The module is intended to introduce students to a thematic approach to modern Hindi literary texts that puts literary texts in a wider social and political context. While class discussions will concentrate on textual and stylistic features, generic questions and narrative analysis, discourse analysis and secondary and theoretical readings from the social sciences will also be brought in to highlight the ways in which literary works give expression to concerns, dynamics and visions that belong to social imagination.

By the end of the module students will have gained direct acquaintance with some of the most significant authors and works of post-1947 Hindi literature, learnt to apply techniques of textual analysis, and reflected upon the strategies needed in order to use literary texts in order to consider broader cultural, social and political questions.


Total of 10 weeks teaching with 1 hour lecture and 1 hour text reading and discussion class per week. 

Scope and syllabus

This module will consist of classes during which we will analyse and discuss sample texts in Hindi (stories or chapters from novels), in the light of secondary literature on social transformation. Genres discussed will include regionalist writing, popular fiction, women’s writing and Dalit autobiographies.

Method of assessment

One essay of 2,000 words to be submitted on day 1 after reading week, term 2 (40%); one essay of 2,000 words to be submitted on day 1, term 3 (40%); a 20 minute oral presentation (20%).

Suggested reading

Primary texts:

  • Narratives of mobility in contemporary Hindi coursepack (available from the SOAS bookshop)
  • Mannu Bhandari, ‘Trishanku’, Trishanku aur anya kahaniyan, New Delhi: Akshar Prakashan (1978) E. tr. will be provided
  • Manohar Shyam Joshi, Kuru kuru svaha, New Delhi: Rajkamal (1989 ed.)
  • Mohan Rakesh, Andhere band kamre, New Delhi: Rajkamal (1972 ed.). E. tr. Lingering Shadows, Delhi: Hind Pocket Books (1970)
  • Phanishwarnath Renu, Maila Anchal, New Delhi: Rajkamal (1954). E. tr. The Soiled Border, New Delhi: Chanakya (1990)
  • Shivani, ‘Ziladhish’, in Kariye chama. New Delhi: Hind Pocket Bocks, n.d.
    • E. tr. Krishnakali and other stories, Calcutta: Rupa & Co. (1995)
    • Smashan Champa [sound recording] Perivale: Tiger Books (1995) [MV /2943 ]
  • Geetanjali Shri, Mai, New Delhi: Rajkamal (1993). E tr. Mai, New Delhi: Kali for Women (2003)
  • Krishna Sobti, Ai larki, New Delhi: Rajkamal (1991). E. tr. Listen Girl, New Delhi: Katha (2002)
  • Omprakash Valmiki, Juthan, New Delhi: Rajkamal (1999). E. tr. Joothan: a Dalit’s Life, Kolkata: Samya (2003)
    • Salam (short stories), New Delhi: Rajkamal (2000)
  • Surendra Varma, Mujhe chand chahiye, New Delhi: Rajkamal (1993). E translation of select chapters will be available.
  • Nirmal Verma, Apne desh vapasi, New Delhi: Rajkamal
    • The World Elsewhere and other stories (1988)
    • Bharat aur Yurop: pratisruti ke ksetr (essays), New Delhi: Rajkamal (1991)

Secondary texts:

  • Arvind Das, Changel. The Biography of a Village, Delhi: Penguin India (1996)
  • Sunil Khilnani, The Idea of India, London: Hamish Hamilton (1997)
  • Ashis Nandy, An ambiguous journey to the city : the village and other odd ruins of the self in the Indian imagination, New Delhi: OUP (2001)
  • Gordon Roadarmel, The Theme of Alienaton in the modern Hindi Short Story, U. of Californi Ph.D. thesis (1969) KK891.43309ROA /641608
    • A death in Delhi : modern Hindi short stories, Berkeley: U of California Press (1972)
  • Patricia Uberoi, Freedom and destiny: gender, family, and popular culture in India, New Delhi: OUP (2006)
  • Sarah B. Wilkerson, ‘Hindi Dalit Autobiography: an exploration of identity’, Modern Asian Studies (forthcoming)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules