TAPSA: “An Empire of Literary Telugu: The Andhra Sahitya Parishat and Telugu Classicism in an Age of British Imperialism (1911-1915)”

Gautham Reddy

Scholars of Telugu literature have frequently represented Telugu Classicism at the turn of the twentieth century as the dying gasp of an ancient régime. This essay revisits the early years of the Andhra Sahitya Parishat (1911-1915) in order to examine questions around the origins and persistence of Telugu Classicism and its relationship to contemporary Indian notions of modernity at the turn of the twentieth century. A review of the Parishat's early interventions in public literary controversies surrounding the standardization of Telugu prose and its successful attempts to position itself as a nationalist intermediary sheds powerful light on the early twentieth century fascination with Telugu Classicism among the English-educated Telugu graduate class and showcases a 'Lost Era' of literary activism and national identity formation in the shadow of Empire. Ultimately, this essay argues that Telugu Classicism was an integral dimension of contemporary projects of linguistic and literary reform and constructively contributed to the imagination of Telugu as a 'national language' in an era of British Imperialism.

Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 5:00pm
Foster 103