Organized Panel Session
When considering the premodern literary vernacular landscape of South Asia, traditional and contemporary scholarship has largely relied on linguistic categories of state and nation-based language identities (i.e. Hindi, Bengali, etc.). In the Bengali-dominated East, the modern vs. premodern divide also heavily influences the poetic geography of the region. The papers presented in this paper analyze the counter-narrative that can be found in Eastern South Asia where contemporary language identities have trumped the rich pre-modern literary landscape of the region. Several regional literary forms, like the short Lyric poetry (pada) were unique literary currencies of the East popular from the time of Vidyāpati in Bihar (early 15th cent. CE) right into the early decades of the 20th century. This landscape is radically different from the paths of literary circulation in the North and the South. The papers of this panel, from their own groundings in particular literary expressions of this neglected region, will together focus on questions of genre, circulation, audience, and performativity in the context of premodern Eastern India. Assumptions of courtliness vs. the folk, Islamicate vs. Sanskritic, and cosmopolitan vs. local do not apply largely to the context of Eastern India. Issues of colonial and post-colonial literary historiography play heavily into the formation of the individual language and literary communities of Eastern South Asia (Bengali, Maithili, Odia, etc.) This panel has the secondary aim of stimulating a broader scholarly discussion and impetus to begin considering new vernacular literary histories in regions and borderlands that fall off of institutional radars.