Dr. Shobna Nijhawan Office hours:
Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics Tu/Th 1-2 and
Ross S570 by appointment
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 88725
AS/HND 3610 3.0 Writings of Premchand (1880-1936)
The course delves into the life and times of Premchand (1880-1936), one of the most eminent writers of modern Hindi-Urdu fiction. We read short stories, essays and excerpts from novels that provide insight into Premchand’s oeuvre as it emerged in a period of heightened social reforms, nationalist consciousness and anti-colonial activism.
The readings pay particular attention to Premchand’s depiction of the condition of peasants, colonial economic exploitation, and women’s issues (dowry, widowhood). By means of close reading, we also trace Premchand’s literary development from an idealist utopianist and convinced follower of Mahatma Gandhi to a disillusioned fighter, who turned towards more radical forms of protest. Alongside the original sources students are introduced to secondary historical and post-colonial texts.
Note: Knowledge of Hindi and/or Urdu is not required. All readings are available in English translations. Students with advanced knowledge of Hindi and/or Urdu are encouraged to read the original texts
Course structure and requirements
The class meetings are divided into formal lecturing and close reading as well a discussion of the primary sources and topics revolving around Premchand’s writings.
Readings: It is absolutely necessary that all students engage with the weekly reading assignments in order to participate in the class discussions. The reading load is reasonable and I expect every student to explore each text by means of close reading and write-ups of your thoughts before and after class.
Presentations: There will be one group presentation, in which a selected topic will be introduced in 10-15 minutes (see guidelines and list of topics with dates).
Two short tests on the readings and topics discussed in class are intended to assess the students’ learning outcome.
Paper: The paper (5 pages) consists of an interpretation of a Premchand short story (or for advanced Hindi and/or Urdu speakers, an annotated translation from Hindi or Urdu into English), which is to be selected in consultation with the instructor.
Final Examination: The final examination asks students to respond to questions pertaining to the class readings.
The final grade will be calculated as follows
Class attendance and participation
(including the oral presentation worth 5%): 20 %
2 tests: (each 15%) 30%
Paper: 25 %
Final examination: 25 %