Francesca Orsini is a reader in the literatures of north India at SOAS, University of London, and works with Hindi, Urdu, and Indo-Persian texts. She is interested in the ways in which a multilingual approach to literary history can challenge identitarian approaches to literary history in India and also provide an appropriate model for understanding the dynamics of world literature from the bottom up.
For the Radcliffe fellowship, Orsini is developing, in theoretical and historical terms, the idea of the “local” as a crucial standpoint for studying the interplay between cosmopolitan and local in a multilingual literary culture. The north Indian region of Awadh is her “local” standpoint, and she is studying literary production and circulation in Persian and Hindi in that region in the 16th to 18th centuries from three perspectives: a geographical focus on “local” centers; a stylistic and linguistic approach to selected texts to ascertain whether and how their language registers the impact of literary tastes in other languages (and scripts); and a generic focus on literary translations.
Orsini holds a PhD from the University of London. She is the author of The Hindi Public Sphere, 1920–1940: Language and Literature in the Age of Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2002), and Print and Pleasure: Popular Literature and Entertaining Fictions in Colonial North India (Permanent Black, 2009) and has edited Love in South Asia: A Cultural History (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and Before the Divide: Hindi and Urdu Literary Culture (Orient BlackSwan, 2010).