Session Abstract: This session explores political models and representations of kingship in South Asian literature between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. The speakers seek to shift focus from the traditional archives of representations of kingship, i.e. court chronicles and courtly proceedings, and to widen the range of this sphere of inquiry to literary, poetical and epistolary textual production, in order to unpack multiple aspects of kingship as articulated across regions in early modern South Asia.
Guided by concerns regarding the ways in which different genres of texts reflect on, and express, ideas of royal conduct, this panel engages with a few primary questions. First, how do we recover ideas on kingship and courtly practice from engaging with a wider variety of genres and texts? What are the possible modes of analysis for that end? Second, what can royal or courtly contexts of writing tell us about the trajectories of these texts themselves, their authors, their reception? Finally, what constitutes appropriate political action, and what was the role of myth, and applied cosmological and occult sciences in the political sphere? Through close reading of a variety of sources in Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi, Persian, Arabic, and Urdu, this panel examines notions of ideal kingship, political advice and political self-fashioning, geographical imagination in the political sphere, and courtly literary production, across different genres, languages and political idioms in South Asia.
Paper Presenter: Ayelet Kotler – University of Chicago
Paper Presenter: Akshara Ravishankar – University of Chicago
Paper Presenter: Daniel J. Morgan – Santa Clara University
Paper Presenter: Eduardo Acosta – University of Chicago