Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Harvard University, May 2013.
“The New Voyager: Theory and Practice of South Asian Literary Modernisms”
Karen Thornber (Advisor), David Damrosch, Faith Beasley, and Hans Harder
M.F.A., Creative Writing, University of Washington, June 2006.
Advisors: Richard Kenney, Colleen McElroy, and Heather McHugh
B.A. (Honors), English Honors, Rutgers University, May 2004.
Minors: Japanese; Cinema Studies
Rita Banerjee’s dissertation, The New Voyager: Theory and Practice of South Asian Literary Modernisms, investigates how literary modernisms in Bengali, Hindi, and Indian English functioned as much as a turning away and remixing of earlier literary traditions as a journey of engagement between the individual writer and his or her response to and attempts to re-create the modern world. This thesis explores how theories and practices of literary modernism developed in Bengali, Hindi, and Indian English in the early to mid-20th century, and explores the representations and debates surrounding literary modernisms in journals such as Kallol, Kavitā, and Krittibās in Bengali, the Nayī Kavitā journal and the Tār Saptak group in Hindi, and the Writers Workshop group in English. Theories of modernism and translation as proposed by South Asian literary critics such as Dipti Tripathi, Acharya Nand Dulare Bajpai, Buddhadeva Bose, and Bhola Nath Tiwari are contrasted to the manifestos of modernism found in journals such as Krittibās and against Agyeya’s defense of experimentalism (prayogvād) from the Tār Saptak anthology. The dissertation then goes on to discuss how literary modernisms in South Asia occupied a vital space between local and global traditions, formal and canonical concerns, and between social engagement and individual expression. In doing so, this thesis notes how the study of modernist practices and theory in Bengali, Hindi, and English provides insight into the pluralistic, multi-dimensional, and ever-evolving cultural sphere of modern South Asia beyond the suppositions of postcolonial binaries and monolingual paradigms.
English, Bengali, Hindi, Japanese, German, French
Additional reading knowledge of Spanish
Director, MFA in Writing & Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts
Associate Scholar of Comparative Literature at Harvard University