Fashioning readers: canon, criticism and pedagogy in the emergence of modern Oriya literature

Mishra, Pritipuspa (2012) Fashioning readers: canon, criticism and pedagogy in the emergence of modern Oriya literature. [in special issue: BASAS special issue] Contemporary South Asia, 20, (1), 135-148. (doi:10.1080/09584935.2011.646080).


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Through a brief history of a widely published canon debate in nineteenth century Orissa, this article describes how anxieties about the quality of ‘traditional’ Oriya literature served as a site for imagining a cohesive Oriya public who would become the consumers and beneficiaries of a new, modernized Oriya-language canon. A public controversy about the status of Oriya literature was initiated in the 1890s with the publication of a serialized critique of the works of Upendra Bhanja, a very popular pre-colonial Oriya poet. The critic argued that Bhanja’s writing was not true poetry, that it did not speak to the contemporary era, and that it featured embarrassingly detailed discussions of obscene material. By unpacking the terms of this criticism and Oriya responses to it, I reveal how at the heart of these discussions were concerns about community building that presupposed a new kind of readership of literature in the Oriya language. Ultimately, this article offers a longer, regional history to the emerging concern of post-colonial scholarship with relationships between publication histories, readerships, and broader ideas of community – local, Indian, and global.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/09584935.2011.646080
ISSNs: 0958-4935 (print)
1469-364X (electronic)
Keywords: literary criticism, oriya literature, tradition, public
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D890 Eastern Hemisphere
P Language and Literature > PK Indo-Iranian
Divisions : Faculty of Humanities > History
ePrint ID: 300548
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
March 2012Published
22 March 2012Made publicly available
January 2012In press
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2012 08:26
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2016 16:21

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