Kevin Schwartz: “Local Poets, Regional Rivals: Tazkira Writing on the Periphery of the 19th Century Persianate World”

Posted on September 12th, 2013 in Events

October 24, 12:15 pm in Encina Hall West, Room 208 (616 Serra St., map)

Workshop Series: “Literary Cultures of Muslim South Asia”

Kevin Schwartz (University of Maryland), “Local Poets, Regional Rivals: Tazkira Writing on the Periphery of the 19th Century Persianate World”

Abstract: Consider the world of heated rivalry and literary debate at one of the last official epicenters of Persian literary patronage in 19th century India, the court of Muhammad Ghaus Khan (d. 1855), the Last Nawab of Arcot. Framed by the Nawab’s own educational upbringing and promotion of Persian poetry through an exclusive society, this presentation explores the competitive practice of tazkirah (“biographical anthology”) writing at his court and its environs, and, through them, the debates and personalities defining the climate of this far-off outpost of Persian literary culture in South India. Though located on the periphery of an ever-fracturing Persianate world and mired in personal clashes and competing genealogies of poetic stylistics, this presentation seeks to situate the activity of the Nawab’s court within the greater literary landscape of the time. In doing so, it hopes to point to the manner in which some poets of mid-19th century India, through the practice of tazkirah writing, can be connected to the larger literary debates occupying poets elsewhere as well as those consuming the writing of Persian literary history.

Kevin Schwartz is pursuing his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies at University of California, Berkeley. He received his B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Columbia University, and his M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. His research focuses on the literary culture of the Persianate world in the early modern and modern periods, with particular interests in historiography, literary debate, circulation of texts, and geography of textual production. In his doctoral dissertation, Kevin provides a comparative evaluation of different literary movements and practices in Iran, India, and Afghanistan during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Beginning in January 2014, he will start a postdoctoral fellowship at University of Maryland’s Roshan Institute of Persian Studies. Funded by the Social Science Research Council, his postdoctoral project utilizes the tazkiras to create a topographic intellectual map that charts the activities and movement of poets, administrators, and littérateurs across borders in Iran and Asia during the 19th century.

Papers are available to Stanford affiliates upon request.

[Co-sponsored by the Center for South Asia and the Department of Comparative Literature.]

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