SOAS University of London

South Asia Department

Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters)

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Term 1

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The objective of the course is to give students a critical overview, through primary and secondary texts, of the different ways in which literature and other performing arts (theatre in particular) changed under colonialism.

By the end of the course students will have gained access to some of the primary texts originally written in both Hindi and Urdu, and will have gained a critical understanding of processes of both differentiation as well as hybridisation between the two languages and their literary traditions as mirrored in elite and popular writings. The course can either be taking singly or in conjunction with the half course “Narratives of mobility” in the second term.


A total of 11 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

This course is intended to provide a literary-historical overview necessary for all students who want to study literature during the colonial period, the beginnings of modern Hindi literature, and the interface between literature and colonial history.

The course will consist of lectures and students' presentations.  Lectures will introduce the topic, followed by reading and discussion of previously circulated material consisting of short extracts from relevant literary texts in Hindi/Urdu, which will be made available in Devanagari and Urdu scripts whenever possible.  When that is not possible, students will be given short extracts of comparable texts in the script they are familiar with.  

Method of assessment

One essay of 5,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 2 (80%); 1 oral presentation (20%).

Suggested reading

A comprehensive reading list for this course will be supplied by the convenor at the beginning of the course.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules