Allison Busch

Allison Busch is Associate Professor of Hindi Literature and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. She received her PhD in Hindi literature from the University of Chicago in 2003. Her expertise is in the early modern period (c. 1550-1850), with a special interest in courtly India. Her book Poetry of Kings (Oxford, 2011) aimed to reframe conversations in Hindi studies about the Mughal and Rajput literary pasts. A recent co-edited volume (with Dutch Hindi scholar Dr. Thomas de Bruijn), Culture and Circulation: Literatures in Motion in Early Modern India (Brill, 2014), draws together essays by leading scholars of Hindi, Bengali, Persian, and Marathi literature in an attempt to foster conversations about the importance of multilingualism and literary cross-pollination in the Indian milieu.

Professor Busch predominantly teaches courses on Indian literary and cultural history and advises undergraduate and graduate students on a range of topics in Hind-Urdu, from the 14th century to the present. Current book projects include a monograph on Hindi historical poetry and an ACLS-sponsored collaboration (with Molly Aitken) on the aesthetic worlds of the Indian heroine.

Professor Busch teaches the MESAAS core course Asian Humanities, History of South Asia I, as well as seminars on Mughal India and India's court cultures. As Director of Graduate Studies she runs the MESAAS Research Colloquium (MDES G6008). At least once per year she offers an in-depth Hindi literature class known as "Readings in Hindi," which is open to any undergraduate or graduate student with a minimum of two years of exposure to the language (or permission of the instructor). The themes vary each time. A sampling of readings (interested students can click on the links and even download many of the materials) is available here.

Select Publications

Recent Books

Poetry of Kings

Culture and Circulation (co-edited with Thomas de Bruijn)

Select Forthcoming Articles

“The Poetics of History in Padmakar’s Himmatbahādurvirudāvalī,” forthcoming in Early Modern Literatures and Traditions in North India, edited by John Stratton Hawley, Anshu Malhota, and Tyler Williams. Delhi, Oxford University Press (in collaboration with the Indian Institute for Advanced Study, Shimla).

“The Poetry of History in Early Modern India,” forthcoming in Beyond the Invention of Tradition: Uses of the Past, edited by Peter Lambert and Bjorn Weiler. London, British Academy.

“Narrations of Self and Other in Mughal-period Literary Culture,” forthcoming in Bundi, edited by Milo Beach. Mumbai, Marg Publications.

Published Articles

(2015) “Listening for the Context: Tuning into the Reception of Rīti Poetry.” In Tellings and Texts, edited by Francesca Orsini and Katherine Schofield. Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers. Read this article here.

(2014) “The Classical Past in the Mughal Present: the Brajbhasha Rīti Tradition.” In Innovations and Turning Points: Toward a History of Sanskrit Literature, edited by Yigal Bronner, David Shulman, and Gary Tubb. New Delhi, Oxford University Press. Read this article here.

(2012) “Portrait of a Raja in a Badshah’s World: Amrit Rai’s Biography of Man Singh (1585).” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. 55 (2-3), pp. 287- 328. Read this article here.

(2011) Hindi Literary Beginnings. In South Asian Texts in History, edited by Whitney Cox, Yigal Bronner, and Lawrence McCrea. Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies. Read this article here

(2010) "Hidden in Plain View: Brajbhasha Poets at the Mughal Court." Modern Asian Studies 44 (2), pp. 267-309. Read this article here.

(2010) "Riti and Register: Lexical Variation in Courtly Braj Bhasha Texts." In Hindi- Urdu Before the Divide, edited by Francesca Orsini, Delhi: Orient Blackswan, pp. 84- 120. Read this article here.

(2009) "Braj beyond Braj: Classical Hindi in the Mughal World." IIC Occasional Publications (12), pp. 1-33. Read this article here

(2006) "Questioning the Tropes about 'Bhakti' and 'Riti'" in Hindi Literary Historiography. In Bhakti in Current Research, ed. Monika Horstmann. Delhi: Manohar, pp. 33-47. Read this article here.

(2005) "Literary Responses to the Mughal Imperium: the Historical Poems of Kesavdas." South Asia Research 25(1), pp. 31-54. Read this article here.

(2004) "The Anxiety of Innovation: The Practice of Literary Science in the Hindi Riti Tradition." Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 24 (2), pp. 45-59. Read this article here.

Recent Translations

Allison Busch's translations of a selection of Urdu fiction and Hindi criticism are available in a new anthology edited by Shobna Nijhawan of York University, Canada. The volume, published in 2010 by Permanent Black, India, is entitled Nationalism in the Vernacular: Hindi, Urdu, and the Literature of Indian Freedom, ed. Shobna Nijhawan. Some details are available here.

Professor Busch is currently working on two other translation projects:

  1. Historical poetry by Padmakar and Man Kavi (fl. 1800), in collaboration with Dalpat Rajpurohit (Hindi lecturer, Columbia University) and William Pinch of (Professor of History, Wesleyan University).
  2. The Rasikapriya and Kavipriya by the acclaimed Brajbasha poet Keshavdas
View Curriculum Vitae