Anglophone Literature and the Emergence of the Colonial Public Sphere in Asia, 1774-1819


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2016-2017


By the 1790s British India had developed a vibrant arts culture with newspapers, libraries, literary clubs, and amateur theaters that made the printer William Duane exclaim that Calcutta rivaled London with its own “Anglo-Asiatic taste.” This project is the first history of this literary culture. It combines techniques from literary sociology, book history, and oceanic studies to concentrate on the archives of authors who were writing in eighteenth-century India, rather than those more canonical orientalists who commented on Asia from their vantage in Britain. Recovering these little-known figures, and examining the intricacies of the artistic and literary publics they ordained, shows how eighteenth-century Anglophone literature became a distinct entity detached from its British progenitors.