I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge, formerly the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Early Modern Indian Cultures of Knowledge at Oxford University. I don't maintain this site anymore, so you will now be redirected to my page at Cambridge.


More about my research

I want to know more about literary culture in Persian (which was an elite language in pre-colonial India like Latin was in the West) and how it is connected to Urdu's literary culture. I am currently engaged in a project at the Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) to study Mughal-period dictionaries and other philological texts. More information can be found here.

My doctoral project was an intellectual biography of the poet-scholar Sirāj al-Dīn ʿAlī Ḳhān “Ārzū” (d. 1756), who is a lynchpin for eighteenth-century Indian scholarship on language and aesthetics. He even seems to have made the historical connection between Sanskrit and Persian central to his work decades before Sir William Jones popularized the theory.

I received my PhD from Columbia University's Department for Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS) and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) in 2013.

You can email me at arthur (dot) dudney (at-sign) orinst (dot) ox (dot) ac (dot) uk.



The full text of my PhD dissertation is now available for free download.

For other academic writing, please see my academia.edu profile.


Academic articles

I have always thought that scholars need to slay the dragon of unnecessary jargon, and so I've tried to keep my writing simple and accessible. Furthermore, I think that professors and graduate students (who are professors-in-training) should see their audience as larger than just the few undergraduates who sit in a room with them each week. Although the experience of dialogue with a good teacher is irreplaceable, we have to admit that we can reach a lot more people on the Internet. To that end, I’ve made some of my work available here and intend to add more:

  • My contribution to the Festshrift honoring Shamsur Rahman Faruqi is “The Wonders of Words, or the Role of Ḳhān-i Ārzū’s Navādir al-alfāz̤ in the Development of Urdu”. The article makes the case that Arzu’s theoretical work in Persian has a much tighter connection with Urdu than is often thought. The Festschrift is worth a look for anyone interested in Urdu or Indo-Persian.
  • I have a chapter called “Braj Reinvented: Colonial Approaches to Hindi Dialects” in Problematizing Language Studies: Cultural, Theoretical and Applied Perspectives (Delhi: Aakar Books, 2010).
  • I presented “Why Did Shāh Ḥātim’s Collected Works Have a Child?” at my department's conference in 2010. My ideas are not fully formed but the paper addresses an important text from the early eighteenth century in which an Urdu poet sets out his rules for Urdu poetry.
  • My MA Thesis, “Colonial Knowledge and the Greco-Roman Classics: Resituating the Legacy of Sir William Jones in a Humanist Context” (Columbia 2008), looks at the profound influence of Classicism on the structure of eighteenth-century European research on India. The full text is available online.
  • An essay I wrote about the first Hindi novel, Devakinandan Khatri’s Chandrakanta (1887), is kindly being hosted on Professor Frances Pritchett’s site on her Hindi/Urdu History links page.
  • I pulled together and introduced a glossary for Hindi readings (suitable for intermediate and advanced students) under the guidance of Professor Allison Busch.


I enjoy my academic work but I’m always looking for freelancing opportunities to reach a public outside of academia.

I have several years experience in writing and editing, as well as in designing for print and online. I have also done some translation as a researcher. I can be reached at adudney [at symbol] gmail [dot] com.

Recent publications

  • Baraza Ijtihad post “Persian, Indo-Persian, and Homeless Texts”
  • Asia Society blog post on the Delhi-based sports NGO Stairs (PDF version here).
  • Time Out Delhi article on Persian literary culture in Delhi (PDF version here).
  • Outlook, an Indian newsweekly, carried my essay “Beyond Techno-Coolies: How the Merits of a Liberal Education Continue to Evade Indian Students” (PDF version here). I did not pick the somewhat inflammatory title.


I was a contributor to SAJAforum, the South Asian Journalists Association’s online publication, focusing on academic and political issues related to media coverage of South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. Previously I was an intern at United Nations Association of the USA writing for the e-newsletter and InterDependent magazine to promote American awareness of the United Nations. I was an editorial intern at The Atlantic Monthly where my duties including fact-checking, compiling research for correspondents and evaluating manuscripts. I won Princeton’s Ferris Prize in journalism for my work in a course taught by David Maraniss of The Washington Post. I have been a reporter at The Daily Princetonian and the Oxford Cherwell, where I became culture editor.

I studied literary translation at Princeton with the poet Paul Muldoon, and I write short stories and translations in my free time.

On my blog

For better or for worse, I've started a personal blog, Splendid Cities. These are the most recent posts:


My work in The Daily Princetonian


Academic resources

  • Professor Frances Pritchett has made her site one of the best sources of material on South Asia on the web, especially for literature. Her ongoing projects include a commentary on the Urdu ghazals of Mirza Ghalib and Mir Taqi Mir.
  • The Hindi-Urdu typepad is the way that I enter text in Devanagari (Hindi) and Perso-Arabic (Urdu) script. I have found this site the easiest to use, but Google's input tools are more powerful and have caught up in terms of usability. Both have options for other languages like Bengali and Panjabi.
  • The Digital South Asia Library (DSAL) at the University of Chicago has a wide range of materials (maps, photographs, periodicals and reference works). I frequently use their digital versions of Platts' Urdu-English dictionary and Steingass' Persian-English dictionary.
  • The Urdu ghazal reader is a great resource for intermediate students. Several classic poems are presented with a clickable glossary interface.
  • A glossary for Hindi readings (suitable for intermediate and advanced students) that I put together under the guidance of Professor Allison Busch.
  • My former department at Columbia University hosts an annual interdisciplinary conference for graduate students on the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. You can get more information about the April 2010 conference and subsequent conferences.
  • The South Asia Graduate Students' Forum at Columbia is a series of presentations by graduate students on a wide range of South Asian topics.

© Arthur Dudney 2011 / Updated 3 June 2014
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