Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature
Academic Staff, SOAS South Asia Institute
Academic Staff, Centre for the Study of Pakistan
Member, Centre of Jaina Studies
- Professor Francesca Orsini
- Email address:
- + 44(0)20 7898 4242
- SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
- Russell Square: College Buildings
- Office No:
- Academic Support Hours:
- Tuesdays 11:00 - 13:00. Email for an appointment
I am a literary historian working primarily with Hindi and Urdu materials and interested in exploring how multilingualism worked and continues to work within the literary cultures of South Asia. After a BA in Hindi from Venice University in Italy, I studied in Delhi at the Central Institute of Hindi and Jawaharlal Nehru University before coming to SOAS for my PhD. For my dissertation, I worked on the Hindi literary sphere of the 1920s and 1930s and the contrast between the ebullience of literary and social experimentation in journals, including women’s journals, and the canonization of “pure” Hindi and moral-patriotic Hindi literature in education (The Hindi Public Sphere, 2002, Hindi tr. 2010).
I then got interested in book history and worked on commercial publishing in Hindi and Urdu in the nineteenth century (Print and Pleasure, 2009), which interestingly saw a proliferation of “oral-literate” genres printed in both Hindi and Urdu scripts just as modern rigid language ideologies consolidated.
Back at SOAS after teaching for several years at Cambridge, I ran a research project on "North Indian Literary Culture and History" (funded by the AHRC) that sought to rethink the history of early modern north Indian literature from a sustained multilingual perspective. We began by reconsidering the fifteenth-century, the little-studied period before the Mughals (After Timur Left, co-edited with Samira Sheikh, 2014). Another focus was performance, songs and story-telling (Tellings and Texts, co-edited with Katherine Schofield 2015). But I am also interested in contemporary literature and popular culture, and a recent project (with Ravikant at SARAI/CSDS) explored the cultural and social dimensions of “Hinglish”, Hindi-English language mixing in media and everyday life.
Currently I am finishing a book on the multilingual literary history of Awadh from the 15c to the early-20c. I am also leading the project “Multilingual locals and significant geographies: for a new approach to world literature” (MULOSIGE, funded by the European Research Council), which seeks to propose an alternative, located and multilingual, approach to world literature, from the perspective of three regional sites – north India, the Maghreb, and the Horn of Africa – in the colonial and postcolonial periods and the contemporary globalizing moment.
I am interested in the worldliness of literature both as it inhabits and intervenes in the world, and also in the imaginative worlds literature creates. I am interested in supervising original projects on literature in South Asia that take up new questions, new materials or approaches, and in literary comparisons beyond India and Europe. There are few places in the world where such projects can be undertaken, and SOAS is one of them.
I am a fellow of the British Academy and member of Steering Committee of the British Comparative Literature Association and of the Institute of World Literature. In 2013-14 I was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. I have also had visiting positions at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Orsini, Francesca (2009) Print and Pleasure: Popular literature and entertaining fictions in colonial north India. New Delhi: Permanent Black.
Orsini, Francesca (2002) The Hindi Public Sphere 1920-1940. Language and Literature in the Age of Nationalism. Oxford University Press.
Orsini, Francesca and Marzagora, Sara and Laachir, Karima (2019) 'Multilingual locals and textual circulation before colonialism'. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, (39) 1. [Forthcoming]
Orsini, Francesca (2018) 'Present Absence: Book circulation, Indian vernaculars and world literature in the nineteenth century'. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. [Forthcoming]
Laachir, Karima and Marzagora, Sara and Orsini, Francesca (2018) 'Multilingual locals and significant geographies: For a ground-up and located approach to world literature'. Modern Languages Open, (1) 19, pp 1-8.
Laachir, Karima and Marzagora, Sara and Orsini, Francesca (2018) 'Significant Geographies: in lieu of world literature'. Journal of World Literature, (3) 3, pp 290-310.
Orsini, Francesca (2018) 'Between qasbas and cities: Language shifts and literary continuities in north India in the long eighteenth century'. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. [Forthcoming]
Orsini, Francesca (2017) 'The Social History of a Genre: Kathas across Languages in Early Modern North India'. Medieval History Journal, (20) 1, pp 1-37.
Orsini, Francesca (2015) 'Whose Amnesia? Literary Modernity in Multilingual South Asia'. The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, (2) 2, pp 266-272.
Orsini, Francesca (2015) 'The Multilingual Local in World Literature'. Comparative Literature, (67) 4, pp 345-374.
Orsini, Francesca (2015) 'Dil Maange more: Cultural contexts of Hinglish in contemporary India'. African Studies. [Inpress]
Orsini, Francesca (2015) 'Booklets and Sants: Religious Publics and Literary History'. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, (38) 3, pp 435-449.
Orsini, Francesca (2012) 'How to do multilingual literary history? Lessons from fifteenth- and sixteenth-century north India'. Indian Economic and Social History Review, (49) 2, pp 225-246.
Orsini, Francesca (2006) 'Cannons and Rubber boats: Oriana Fallaci and the 'Clash of Civilizations''. Interventions International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, (8) 3, pp 444-460.
Orsini, Francesca (2005) 'A Review Symposium'. Indian Economic and Social History Review, (42).
Orsini, Francesca (2002) 'India in the Mirror of World Fiction'. New Left Review 13, pp 75-88.
Orsini, Francesca and Butler Schofield, Katherine, (eds.), (2015) Tellings and Texts: Music, Literature and Performance in North India. Cambridge, UK: Open Books.
Orsini, Francesca and Sheikh, Samira, (eds.), (2014) After Timur Left: Culture and Circulation in Fifteenth-Century North India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Orsini, Francesca, (ed.), (2013) The History of the Book in South Asia. London: Ashgate. (History of the Book in the East).
Orsini, Francesca, (ed.), (2010) Before the Divide: Hindi and Urdu literary culture. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.
Orsini, Francesca, (ed.), (2006) Love in South Asia: a cultural history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (University of Cambridge Oriental Publications).
Orsini, Francesca (2018) 'Mysteries of the Indian Jungle: Emilio Salgari's orientalist adventures'. L’Inde et l’Italie: Rencontres intellectuelles, politiques et artistiques. Paris: Editions EHESS. [Forthcoming]
Orsini, Francesca (2017) 'Na Turk, na Hindu: Shared language, accents and located meanings'. In: Kothari, Rita, (ed.), A Multilingual Nation: Translation and Language Dynamic in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. [Forthcoming]
Orsini, Francesca (2017) 'Reading Together: Hindi, Urdu, and English Village Novels.'. In: Ciocca, R. and Srivastava, N., (eds.), Indian Literature and the World. London: Pagrave Macmilllan.
Orsini, Francesca (2014) '“Krishna is the truth of man”: Mir ʿAbdul Wahid
Bilgrami’s Haqaʾiq-i Hindi / Indian truths and the
circulation of Dhrupad and Bisnupad'. In: Busch, Allison and de Bruijn, Thomas, (eds.), Culture and Circulation: Literature in motion in early modern India. Leiden: Brill, pp 222-246.
Orsini, Francesca (2014) 'Inflected Kathas: Sufis and Krishna Bhaktas in Awadh'. In: Dalmia, Vasudha and Faruqui, Munis, (eds.), Religious Interactions in Mughal India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp 195-232.
Orsini, Francesca (2014) 'Traces of a multilingual world: Hindavi in Persian texts'. In: Orsini, Francesca and Sheikh, Samira, (eds.), After Timur Left: Culture and Circulation in fifteenth-century north India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp 411-444.
Orsini, Francesca (2010) '“Krishna is the Truth of Man”
Mir ‘Abdul Wahid Bilgrami's Haqā’iq-i Hindī (Indian Truths)
and the circulation of dhrupad and bishnupad'. In: Busch, Allison and de Bruijn, Thomas, (eds.), Culture and Circulation. Leiden: Brill. [Forthcoming]
Orsini, Francesca (2006) 'Love Letters'. In: Orsini, F., (ed.), Love in South Asia. A Cultural History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 228-258.
Orsini, Francesca (2004) 'Detective Novels. A Commercial Genre in Nineteenth-Century North India'. In: Blackburn, S. and Dalmia, V., (eds.), India's Literary History. Essays on the Nineteenth Century. Delhi: Permanent Black, pp 435-482.
Orsini, Francesca (2004) 'The Reticent Autobiographer. Mahadevi Varma's Writings'. In: Arnold, D. and Blackburn, S., (eds.), Telling Lives in India. Biography, Autobiography, and Life History.. Delhi / Bangalore: Permanent Black, pp 54-82.
Orsini, Francesca (2004) 'Introduction to Oxford India Premchand'. In: Rai, Alok, (ed.), Oxford India Premchand. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp 1-14.
Orsini, Francesca (2004) 'Pandits, Printers and Others: Publishing in nineteenth-century Benares'. In: Gupta, Abhijit and Chakravorty, Swapan, (eds.), Print Areas: Book history in India. New Delhi: Permanent Black, pp 103-138.
This list was last generated on Thursday, 21st March 2019, 17:54 Europe/London.