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Professor Priyasha Mukhopadhyay to deliver Ballew Lecture at University of Georgia

Portrait of Dr. Priyasha Mukhopadhyay
Dr. Priyasha Mukhopadhyay
Yale University
Park Hall Room 265

The Department of English is delighted to host Dr. Priyasha Mukhopadhyay who will deliver the talk “Reading for Company: Empire and its Forms of Writing, 1857- 1914,” her Ballew Lecture Series talk, that draws from her current book project in which she recovers the story of how ordinary forms of writing, from the bureaucratic document to the magazine, came to dominate the cultural imagination of colonial South Asia. The Ballew Lecture Series is organized by the Department of English, University of Georgia.

Dr. Priyasha Mukhopadhyay works as an Assistant Professor of English at Yale University. Before joining Yale, she was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and earned her doctoral degree in English literature at Oxford University. Dr. Mukhopadhyay studies the literary history of the colonial world, primarily of South Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Much of her research explores practices of reading in this period, focusing on situations that challenge our notions of what it means to read and who is a reader. Professor Mukhopadhyay's research has appeared in Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Journal of Victorian Culture, and the edited volumes, The Unfinished Book (Oxford University Press, 2021) and Fighting Words: Fifteen Books that Shaped the Postcolonial World (Peter Lang, 2017). She is also a co-editor of The Global Histories of Books: Methods and Practices, a collection of essays that seeks to explore some of how books travel across national and linguistic borders.

Her lecture, focusing on the example of the magazine, will ask: what did it mean to read English literature on the periphery of the British empire in 1901? For educated Indian women, locally elite and yet globally marginal, English literature felt like a daunting object, stirring up deep feelings of inadequacy and provinciality. She will explore these affective and readerly histories through an examination of The Indian Ladies’ Magazine (est. 1901), a Madras-based, English-language monthly that placed English literature at the heart of questions about gender reform, education, and nationalism. It published commentaries on Shakespeare’s plays, summaries of popular nineteenth-century novels, literary puzzles, and lists of books to guide its subscribers in their reading choices. Mediating between a reader and her relationship with a novel or a volume of poetry, The Indian Ladies’ Magazine crucially provided readers with important lessons in what to read, how to read, and what to feel after reading it. Her lecture will argue that the magazine transformed literary reading into a tool for building intellectual and affective communities, based on their shared consumption of its printed pages

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