The Broken Spell: The Romance Genre in Late Mughal India


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


South Asian Studies


This project attempts to uncover the view of the Urdu romance genre in India from about 1500-1900. In the latter half of the eighteenth century, and particularly after 1857, the worldview of Indian elites began to change, and twentieth-century studies of the genre treated the romance as an inadequate species of novel, rather than considering romances within their own historical context, and without attempting to reconstruct the worldview in which they were produced and received. Using hitherto unstudied accounts of storytellers and storytelling in late Mughal India, this study examines the social context of the romance and reactions to it, and compares it to the “truth-telling” genre of history, in order to reconstruct the ideological background of the period.