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Ananya Tiwari


LSR, Delhi University

Duration of Project:

14-03-2017 to 25-04-2017

Project Details:

Weekly framework

WEEK 1 - An Introduction to the UrduLanguage and History

  • History of the Urdu language, its origin, evolution, social history. 
  • Comparative analysis with the evolution of English and Hindi (both Urdu and Hindi developed together)
  • Hindi vs. Urdu, and its history
  • Spread of Urdu language through the ages, why was it limited? Which texts travelled across cultures and borders, and why?
  • Difference between medieval Urdu and modern-day Urdu - and the main poets/writers who ushered in/exemplified this change (example - Shakespeare added many new words, introduced the blank verse)
  • Sufism, mysticism and the poetic legacy of Urdu.

WEEK 2 - The PoeticLegacy of Urdu

  • Origin of poetry in the Arabic, Persian literatures (the latter from which Urdu literature heavily derives) (and a comparative analysis with English poetry/Latin at that time - all of the Middle Ages/medieval times).
  • The various forms of poetry, the philosophy governing them, major poets of each genre, some examples. (Nazm, ghazal, rekhti, marsiya, rubai, doha, dastangoi, mushairas) (and some research on the political/historical developments that guided them).
  • Comparative - eg marsiya can be compared to a sonnet form in English
  • What makes Urdu such a poetic and cultured language? How would one define the poetic nature of the language? 
  • Writings of other kinds, such as commentaries, political/philosophical/theological treatises. 
  • How have these medieval forms evolved over time, and some contemporary examples - and a quick comparison with the old. 

WEEK 3 - Till the fall of the MughalEmpire

  • Delhi School of Urdu vs. Lucknow School of Urdu. 
  • Why and how did these two schools develop? Major components of each, and the writers. 
  • Some writers/poets - Hatim, Sauda, Mir, Nazir Akbarabadi, and of course, Mirza Ghalib (who was present in Delhi during the revolt of 1857, and the fall of the Mughal Empire). What they write about, which world do they describe, why they are important, what distinguishes their style. 
  • Rise of the Novel in Urdu - first novel, which was the first one and why/how did it develop and evolve? Comparison with rise of English novel (was it influenced by that?)
  • Impact of Colonial educational policies on the madrasas. 

WEEK 4 - Urdu in the 20th century

  • Rise of novel, short stories, newspapers, bestsellers, magazines/periodicals, journalism
  • Aligarh Movement, Progressive Writers Movement
  • Urdu during the nationalist movement
  • Urdu and films
  • Partition
  • Manto, Chughtai, Premchand, Mohammad Iqbal, Akbar Allabhabadi are some examples

WEEK 5 - Contemporary Urdu Literature

  • Most popular forms of Urdu poetry practiced today.
  • Which elements of the tradition have contemporary poets adopted, which have they discarded/not so popular/has become archaic? 
  • Names of some very prominent, widely read Urdu novelists/poets/short-story writers, and some which are not as well known. 
  • Which are the best publications for Urdu writing? Most widely read newspapers/magazines.
  • How has the language prospered since the dawn of the 20th century/what has changed or evolved? How is Urdu changing with time/adapting?  
  • Why are there no easily available translations? Which are the most renowned translators and critics of the language? A comment on translations, and the best ones. 
  • The current cultural apparatuses that enable Urdu to proliferate as a language. What does its future seem like? 
  • Any international student who has opted for Urdu? What has their experience been like? 
  • How has Urdu travelled across the world, and if so, has it given birth to new variations in the language? Are there Urdu pidgins or creoles? 
  • Diversity of Urdu language - its various regional, social dialects, Urdu as immigrant language/second language (diaspora), Urdu as foreign language - Is there a standard Urdu/Urdu proper?
  • Is there an institutional Urdu vs. an informal Urdu? Urdu taught in schools and madrasas?
  • How has Urdu language changed in the age of cinema, globalisation and inter-mixing of populations - any overt influence of English language (example - punctuation marks)? What are the main cultural apparatuses that proliferate Urdu (eg. film music, ghazal music, sufi)
  • Do Urdu readers read Persian literature? Do Arab countries know Urdu? If so, what has the intermixing of these two cultures (of the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent) resulted in, in terms of art and literature? 

WEEK 6 - Women 

  • Contribution of women throughout the ages, in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, from the dawn of Islam to now?
  • How has their content evolved with time, what all do they write about in this day and age? 
  • Are women writers tied to their gender identity while writing, or have they transcended it (most probably the latter, with some examples of the former, I am guessing). 
  • Is there a form in Urdu literature and arts that is particular to only women/is considered feminine? 


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