Literatures of South Asia

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Module code
FHEQ Level
South Asia Section

Module overview

There are multiple ways of thinking about resistance literature. Simply writing about oneself and the space one is not allowed to occupy can be resistance literature. Writing about past or present oppression, stirring protest, and imagine alternative futures can also be read as literature of resistance. Resistance literature makes us think about what literature seeks to do and the silences or censorship it challenges. It directs our attention to forms of injustice, but also to its mode of address, and to its intended and non-intended audiences, as well as it effects. At its core, resistance literature offers a microcosm of power dynamics. Through narrative, poetic technique, political inclination, subject matter and authorial position, texts highlights the often intersectional dynamics of everyday living and the power structures that shape it. The module will present an array of textual examples and forms of resistance literature, including:

  • Anticolonial poems and/or plays
  • Dalit literature
  • Feminist narratives and critiques
  • Political poems
  • Political comedy and satire
  • LGBT life narratives
  • Intersectional protest

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of a wide range of texts and topics of resistance in South Asia
  • Appreciate the intersectional nature of resistance
  • Theorise resistance starting from the texts themselves, in relation to other discourses and theoretical concepts
  • Appreciate the meaning of the form as well as content of resistance literature
  • Discover and critically analyse literary texts of resistance in South Asia


The module is taught over 10 weeks teaching 2 hours each week

Scope and syllabus

This module aims to provide an introduction to the pre-modern and modern literatures of South Asia. During the module students will encounter a wide variety of literary aesthetic practices which make up the plural tradition of South Asian Literature. While you will not be expected to develop linguistic proficiency in a South Asian language, module materials will incorporate texts in translation. A variety of literary styles and forms will be studied, and seminars will require close reading and discussion of key texts as well as contextualisation in terms of broader literary, historical and cultural trends.

Method of assessment

  • 1 x essay (1500 words) submitted day 5, week 1 of the term in which the module is taught (30%)
  • 1 x essay (1500 words) submitted day 5, week 7 in term in which the module is taught (30%)
  • 1 x 10 minute virtual presentation (narrated powerpoint) on day 1, week 1 of the term after the one which the module is taught (40%)

Suggested reading

Nationalism in the vernacular: Hindi, Urdu, and the literature of Indian freedom, /ed. Shobna Nijhawan (2010) (poetry & drama)

A comparison between women and men: Tarabai Shinde and the critique of gender relations in colonial India, Rosalind O'Hanlon. (satirical tract)

Namdeo Dhasal, Golpitha, translated by Dilip Chitre. (poetry & memoir)
Malika Amar Shaikh (Dhasal’s wife), I Want to Destroy Myself, translated by Jerry Pinto.

Queer Identity and New Media: Amrutha Patil, Kari. (graphic novel)

Miyah Poetry (oral poetry by Assamese Muslims in Assamese and English )

Geography of Resistance & Areas of Conflict: River Poems by Mamang Dai


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules