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The Inside Outdoors: Return(s) to Nature in Urdu and Anglophone Poetry

  • Author(s): Burney, Fatima Burney
  • Advisor(s): Mufti, Aamir R
  • et al.

This dissertation examines the reception of Urdu and Persian ghazal poetry in primitivist scholarship of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While seventeenth and early eighteenth-century poets writing in Urdu or Persian would have regarded the Indo-Persian ghazal as a cosmopolitan literary tradition, starting in the eighteenth century, scholars begin to represent ghazal conventions in ‘naturalistic’ terms that seek to imagine it as a folk tradition. I highlight the discourses of ‘nature’ in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Anglophone and Urdu literary scholarship to illustrate the particular challenges that writers faced in assessing the ghazal by primitivist standards of authentic expression. I demonstrate how the reengineering of the ghazal towards more ‘natural expression’ sought to transform ghazal poetry into a literary tradition that represented its ‘people’.

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