Making modern Malayalam: Literary and educational practices in nineteenth-century Kerala /

Saved in:
Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Ambrosone, Ellen, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2016
Description:1 electronic resource (312 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
URL for this record:
Hidden Bibliographic Details
Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Sascha Ebeling Committee members: Gary Tubb; Thibaut d'Hubert.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-10(E), Section: A.
Summary:This dissertation is an exploration of bhāsāpariskāram, or the manifold ways in which modern Malayalam was constructed during the nineteenth century on the southwestern coast of India. In contrast to focusing on a moment of origin at which a modern version of the language emerged, this study considers the interconnected processes by which the language was consciously restyled by the end of the nineteenth century. The modern version of the language is characterized by a proliferation of print genres that were meant to educate, entertain, and inform a growing mass readership.
The corpus of this dissertation is comprised of Malayalam grammars, early Malayalam novels, and literary journals in Malayalam. In Chapter 1, I argue that the advent of grammatical production on the southwestern coast of India precipitated a refashioning of linguistic epistemes by the end of the nineteenth century. European and Malayali grammarians engaged with Sanskrit, Tamil, and European models of grammatical understanding in order to fashion grammars of the vernacular language. In Chapter 2, I argue that the early Malayalam novels facilitated the modernization of the language by articulating a triangulation between the language, the production of the novel, and the progress of the people who speak the language. The early novels also mediated important questions about language learning and the role of one's own language in relation to English. In doing so, the early novels carved out an intellectual space for Malayalam and invested it with the ability to transmit local practical knowledge and good moral character. In Chapter 3, I argue that the literary journals can be seen as indices of the flourishing discourse on language reform in Kerala. They demonstrated a wide array of perspectives from Malayali literati, who used a variety of strategies to inspire each other to aid in the modernization of the language. I argue that these strategies were meant to insure that the project of bhāsāpariskāram, would not be derailed and that vibrant literary production would continue by qualified individuals into the twentieth century.
In contrast to other studies of language reform in South India that are grounded in narratives of linguistic nationalism, this study does not have linguistic nationalism as its telos. Instead, I attend to the dynamic ways in which historical agents of change brought their diverse interests to the project of modernizing the language as educators, intellectuals, writers, and professionals whose motives may or may not have included the desire to fashion a language-based identity.