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TAPSA: Jenisha Borah

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TAPSA: Vaideśika Deśikas and Other Autobiographical Games: Stagings of the Authorial Self in Prologues of Nīlakaṇṭha Dīkṣita and his Intimate Milieu

November 4, 2021 - 11:15am

Virtual Event

Talia Ariav, PhD Candidate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, The University of Chicago

In this talk, Ariav will be reading moments from dramatic prologues by the well known Sanskrit poet Nīlakaṇṭha Dīkṣita and other figures in his related circle of authors, who were active in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in the Tamil South. These prologues stage self introductions that are shaped by tropes of self-presentation from the long tradition of Sanskrit plays. Such tropes are traditionally reflexive and complex, simultaneously constructing a reality of performance and highlighting its scripted nature. Ariav’s presentation will trace how Nīlakaṇṭha and his milieu make full use of the inherent potentials of the historical Sanskrit prologue, as they craft deliberately playful versions of themselves and of their audience. Concomitantly, at the heart of these self-presentations stand deep commitments to these authors’ circumscribed circles of teachers and family members. This pact of familiarity is in turn drawn, in various ways, between these authors and their audience. Ariav will suggest that reading these authors’ creative stagings of themselves in light of their genealogical ties paints a larger picture regarding their models of subjectivity and writing. In Nīlakaṇṭha’s southern brahminical early modern world, to be an individual writer is to speak as an indivisible part of a radically intimate tradition. The authorial self is defined and celebrated in a multi-vocal, refracted way, and, necessarily, as part of a shared world.

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