'The Atheist's Bible: Diderot's 'Elements de physiologie' by Caroline Warman is the winner (jointly) of the R. Gapper Book Prize 2021 for best book in French Studies.

Tellings and Texts: Music, Literature and Performance in North India

Tellings and Texts: Music, Literature and Performance in North India Francesca Orsini and Katherine Butler Schofield (eds)
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78374-102-1 £19.95
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78374-103-8 £32.95
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A good deal of the work on literature in the North Indian vernaculars over the last decades has been, perhaps out of necessity, somewhat narrowly philological. This volume, however, marks a new stage of collective development in the field. Any scholar interested in current directions in South Asian humanities should find the papers exciting. Tellings and Texts, however, is much more than the sum of its parts. Indeed, it is hard to express how well put-together this volume is. Much too often edited books even on a fairly well-defined topic consist of separate chapters that appear mostly independent of one another, with section divisions that seem somewhat forced and not particularly coherent. This volume, by contrast, really does read as a well-executed whole, with the papers referencing one another generously and a progression from one nicely conceived section to the next.
— Daniel Gold, Professor of South-Asian Religions, Cornell University

Examining materials from early modern and contemporary North India and Pakistan, Tellings and Texts brings together seventeen first-rate papers on the relations between written and oral texts, their performance, and the musical traditions these performances have entailed. The contributions from some of the best scholars in the field cover a wide range of literary genres and social and cultural contexts across the region.
The texts and practices are contextualized in relation to the broader social and political background in which they emerged, showing how religious affiliations, caste dynamics and political concerns played a role in shaping social identities as well as aesthetic sensibilities. By doing so this book sheds light into theoretical issues of more general significance, such as textual versus oral norms; the features of oral performance and improvisation; the role of the text in performance; the aesthetics and social dimension of performance; the significance of space in performance history and important considerations on repertoires of story-telling. The book also contains links to audio files of some of the works discussed in the text.
Tellings and Texts is essential reading for anyone with an interest in South Asian culture and, more generally, in the theory and practice of oral literature, performance and story-telling.

King’s College London has generously contributed towards the publication of this volume.

Tellings and Texts: Music, Literature and Performance in North India
Francesca Orsini and Katherine Butler Schofield (eds) | October 2015
566 | 11 Black and White | 6.14" x 9.21" (234 x 156 mm)
ISBN Paperback: 9781783741021
ISBN Hardback: 9781783741038
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783741045
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783741052
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783741069
ISBN Digital (XML): 9781783746415
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0062
BIC subject codes: DS (Literature: History and Criticism), HBTB (Social and Cultural History), 1FM (South East Asia); BISAC subject codes: LIT008020 (LITERARY CRITICISM / Asian / Indic), LIT018000 (LITERARY CRITICISM / South & Southeast Asian see headings under Asian), MUS015000 (MUSIC / Ethnomusicology); OCLC Number: 993949330.

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Note on Transliteration
Note on Dating Systems
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors

Francesca Orsini and Katherine Butler Schofield

I: Between Texts and Practices
1. The Example in Dadupanthi Homiletics
Monika Horstmann

2. Making it Vernacular in Agra: The Practice of Translation by Seventeenth-Century Jains
John E. Cort

3. World Enough and Time: Religious Strategy and Historical Imagination in an Indian Sufi Tale   
Muzaffar Alam

4. Hearing Mo‘jizat in South Asian Shi‘ism   
Amy Bard

II: Books and Performances, Books for Performance

5. Note to Self: What Marathi Kirtankars’ Notebooks Suggest about Literacy, Performance, and the Travelling Performer in Pre-Colonial Maharashtra   
Christian Lee Novetzke

6. A Handbook for Storytellers: The Ṭirāz al-akhbār and the Qissa Genre   
Pasha M. Khan

7. Did Surdas Perform the Bhāgavata Purāṇa?   
John Stratton Hawley

8. Text, Orality, and Performance in Newar Devotional Music   
Richard Widdess

III: Written Clues about Performed Texts

9. Listening for the Context: Tuning in to the Reception of Riti Poetry   
Allison Busch

10. Reading the Acts and Lives of Performers in Mughal Persian Texts   
Sunil Sharma

11. Persian Poets on the Streets: The Lore of Indo-Persian Poetic Circles in Late Mughal India   
Stefano Pellò

12. Texts and Tellings: Kathas in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries   
Francesca Orsini

13. A Curious King, a Psychic Leper, and the Workings of Karma: Bajid’s Entertaining Narratives
Imre Bangha

IV: Musical Knowledge and Aesthetics

14. Raga in the Early Sixteenth Century
Allyn Miner

15. Learning to Taste the Emotions: The Mughal Rasika
Katherine Butler Schofield

16. Paradigms of Performance and Poetical Composition in the Seventeenth-Century Bengali Literature of Arakan   
Thibaut d’Hubert

17. The Shi‘i Faces of Nizamuddin: Nizami Drumming and Texts in Delhi and Karachi   
Richard K. Wolf


Muzaffar Alam is George V. Bobrinskoy Professor in South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He is the author of, among others, The Crisis of Empire in Mughal North India (1986) and The Languages of Political Islam in India: c.1200-1800 (2004); and, with Sanjay Subrahmanyam, of Writing the Mughal World: Studies on Culture and Politics (2011).

Imre Bangha is Associate Professor of Hindi at the University of Oxford. He studied Indology in Budapest and holds a PhD in Hindi from Visva-Bharati. His publications include English, Hindi, and Hungarian books and articles on Brajbhasha and other forms of early Hindi with special focus on the poetic works of Anandghan, Thakur, Vishnudas, Tulsidas,Kabir, and Bajid, as well as on Rekhta literature in the Nagari script.

Amy Bard teaches Urdu and Hindi language and literature at Harvard University. In addition to her work on Shi’ah religiosity, Bard’s current projects include translating contemporary memoirs and autobiographical fiction from Hindi and Urdu to English.

Allison Busch is Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. Her expertise is in Hindi literature, and she also has a special interest in Mughal-period court culture. Her recent monograph Poetry of Kings came out from Oxford University Press in 2011. Professor Busch is the editor (with Thomas de Bruijn) of Culture and Circulation (2014), a  collection of essays that explores relationships across literary languages in South Asia. One ongoing research project concerns the historical poetry produced in Rajput kingdoms during the heyday of Mughal rule. She is also working (with the art historian Molly Aitken) on a book about aesthetic representations of the Indian heroine across the arts.

John E. Cort is Professor of Asian and Comparative Religions at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. He is the author of Jains in the World: Religious Values and Ideology in India (2001), Framing the Jina:Narratives of Icons and Idols in Jain History (2010), and, with Lawrence A. Babb and Michael W. Meister, Desert Temples: Sacred Centers of Rajasthan in Historical, Art-Historical and Social Contexts (2008), as well as manyarticles on the Jains and on religion and culture in western India. He has edited Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History (1998) and, with Andrea Luithle-Hardenberg and Leslie C. Orr, the forthcoming Cooperation and Competition, Conflict and Contribution: The Jain Community, British Expansion, and Jainological Scholarship, 1800-1950.

Thibaut d’Hubert is assistant professor at the University of Chicago where he teaches Bengali language and literature in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. His main field of research is the literary history of Bengal. His research interests include Indic and Persian poetics, the editing of premodern Bengali texts, the study of scribal practices, South Asian traditional hermeneutics, and the history of translation. He is currently working on a book project on the Bengali poet Ālāol (fl.1651-1671) and the formation of vernacular Muslim literatures around the Bay of Bengal (c. sixteenth–seventeenth centuries). With Alexandre Papas (CNRS/CETOBAC, Paris), he is preparing a handbook on the reception of the works of the Persian polymath of Herat ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami (1414-1492) based on material presented by various scholars during two conferences held in Chicago (2012) and Paris (2013).

John Stratton Hawley—informally, Jack—is Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University. Two books in which he has long been involved have recently appeared from Harvard University Press: Sur’s Ocean: Poems from the Early Tradition (with Kenneth E. Bryant), one of the initial volumes in the Murty Classical Library of India, and A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement.

Monika Horstmann (a.k.a. Monika Boehm-Tettelbach) retired as Head of the Department of Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University. Her research focuses on early modern North Indian literatures and religious movements and on the interface between religion and politics. Recent books include Der Zusammenhang der Welt (2009) and Jaipur 1778: The Making of a King (2013), and a volume co-edited with Heidi R.M. Pauwels, Indian Satire in the Period of First Modernity (2012).

Pasha M. Khan is Chair in Urdu Language and Culture and an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. Among other subjects, he has written about the shahr-āshob genre of Urdu poetry (in Nationalism in the Vernacular, ed. by Shobna Nijhawan, 2009), and on the line between history and romance in the Shahnamah (Indian Economic and Social History Review, 2012). At present he is working on a book tentatively entitled The Broken Spell, which deals with the the art of storytelling (dāstān-go’ī), the lives of storytellers, and the relationship between between Urdu/Persian stories and histories in India from the beginning of the Mughal era to the twentieth century.

Allyn Miner is a Lecturer in the Department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches sitar performance and courses on music and dance. She has a PhD in Musicology from Banaras Hindu University and a PhD in Sanskrit from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests centre on Hindi, Urdu, and Sanskrit texts related to music and the social history of music in various periods in North India. Her book Sitar and Sarod in the 18th and 19th Centuries (1997) is a standard reference work on the history of the sitar. Her translation of the Saṅgītopaniṣatsāroddhāra examines developments in music theory in fourteenth-century Gujarat.

Christian Lee Novetzke is Professor of South Asia Studies, Comparative Religion, and International Studies at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. His work explores the histories, cultures, and religions of South Asia from the medieval period to the modern and contemporary. Novetzke’s work includes three books: Religion and Public Memory (2008 and 2009); The Quotidian Revolution:Vernacularization, Religion, and Everyday Life in Premodern India (2016); and Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation, written with Andy Rotman and William Elison (2015).

Francesca Orsini, FBA, is Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her research spans modern and contemporary Hindi literature (The Hindi Public Sphere: Language and Literature in the Age of Nationalism, 2002), cultural history (she edited Love in South Asia: A Cultural History, 2006), popular literature and the history of the book (Print and Pleasure: The Genres of Commercial Publishing in Nineteenth-century North India, 2009), and multilingual literary history (Hindi and Urdu Before the Divide, 2010; After Timur Left: Culture and Circulation in Fifteenth-century North India, co-edited with S. Sheikh, 2014).

Stefano Pellò is Lecturer in Persian and Indo-Persian studies at the University Ca’ Foscari of Venice, and has been Visiting Lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and at Columbia University, New York. His main research area is currently the diffusion and reception of Persian linguistic and literary culture in and beyond South Asia, and the related cosmopolitan processes of cultural and aesthetic interaction, particularly in the poetic sphere. He has also published studies on the traditional Persian philological and rhetorical disciplines and works as a literary translator. Among his main publications are Tutiyān-e Hind, a book on the history of Persian grammatical writings (Dabistan-i Parsi: Una grammatica persiana del XIX secolo, 2003), and the first Italian complete annotated translation of the Divan of Hafez of Shiraz (2005).

Katherine Butler Schofield (née Brown) is a historian of music in  Mughal India and the colonial Indian Ocean. Working largely with Persian sources for Hindustani music c.1570-1860, she has established music as central to Mughal technologies of sovereignty and selfhood, identified classicisation processes at work in early modern Indian arts, examined the role of connoisseurship in nourishing male friendships, told tales about ill-fated courtesans and overweening ustads, and traced the lineage of the chief musicians to the Mughal emperors from Akbar to Bahadur Shah Zafar. Her current European Research Council project, "Musical Transitions to European Colonialism in the Eastern Indian Ocean" (2011-2015), investigates the ways in which the musical field was transformed in India and the Malay world c.1750-1900 as precolonial polities gave way to colonial regimes. As part of this project she is co-writing a book, Hindustani Music Between Empires: Alternative Histories.

Sunil Sharma is Associate Professor of Persianate and Comparative Literature at Boston University. He received his PhD from the Universityof Chicago. He is the author of two monographs: Persian Poetry at the Indian Frontier: Mas‘ūd Sa‘d Salmān of Lahore (2000) and Amir Khusraw:The Poet of Sultans and Sufis (2005); two collaborative works: Atiya’s Journeys: A Muslim Woman from Colonial Bombay to Edwardian Britain (2010) and In the Bazaar of Love: The Selected Poetry of Amir Khusrau (2011); and co-editor of two volumes of essays: Necklace of the Pleiades: Studies in Persian Literature Presented to Heshmat Moayyad on his 80th Birthday (2007) and On the Wonders of Land and Sea: Persianate Travel Writing (2013). He has written numerous articles and co-curated several exhibitions at Harvard University. His research interests are in the areas of Persianate literary and visual cultures, translation, and travel writing.

Richard Widdess is Professor of Musicology in the Department of Music, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His research and teaching focus on the classical and religious musical traditions of South Asia, with reference to history, theory, ethnography, music analysis, and cognition. He has written three books on South Asian music: on The Rāgas of Early Indian Music (1995), tracing evidence for the development of the raga concept to c.1250; Dhrupad (with Ritwik Sanyal, 2004), on the oldest style of North Indian classical singing; and Dāphā: Sacred Singing in a South Asian City (2013), a study of the music of temple singing groups in Bhaktapur, Nepal. His current research addresses the cognitive and cultural significance of musical structure in contexts of orality.

Richard K. Wolf is Professor of Music and South Asian Studies at Harvard University. His books and articles consider musical and social issues of language, emotion, poetics, time, space, and religious experience. Wolf also performs concerts internationally on the South Indian vīṇā. In recent years his field investigations have expanded from South Asia to Central and West Asia. His most recent single-authored book, The Voice in the Drum: Music, Language and Emotion in Islamicate South Asia (2014), is a hybrid ethnomusicological study written in the form of a novel.