I am a PhD student at Columbia University studying Comparative Literature in South Asia. You can read more about my research, my academic articles, and my writing for a general audience. There are also some resources for students.
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 focus on 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 am a PhD candidate at Columbia University in the Department for Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies (MESAAS) and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS).
I am back in New York after my research year in the U.K. and India funded by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA grant.
You can email me at add2115 (at-sign) columbia (dot) edu.
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 take a break from it. I also believe that scholars have a responsibility to engage with the public and not just with their colleagues.
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.
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 SAJAforum
- “India: The Western Press and its Blanket Statements”
- Tehelka's Sting Journalism
- Interview with Palace of Illusions author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
- Translators in Afghanistan
- “Media: Courting Dalits as Readers”
- Castes in Yemen
- “Man Marries Dog”
- Shashi Tharoor interview
- Media Watch: Gay issues in India
- 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. It has 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 department 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 24 September 2012
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