Literary folk
Writing popular culture in colonial Punjab, 1885– 1905
in Interventions
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This chapter identifies some of the ways a Punjabi literary sphere was (mis)understood in the late-Victorian empire through the curation of a canon of Punjabi folk-culture by R. C. Temple, Flora Annie Steel and C. F. Usborne. These people lived and worked in Punjab as an extension of colonial administration. The chapter offers an overview of a partial and an incomplete project to variously transcribe, translate, curate and analyse a version of 'common' Punjabi culture conventionally divorced from official literary contexts. It does this by analysing the boundary between oral culture and print culture. Temple's three-volume Legends of the Punjab brought together texts that were mostly circulated through performance, but were also appearing in Punjabi print. Based on stories she had heard or collected, Steel published Wide-Awake Stories, which was later published as Tales of the Punjab and From the Five Rivers.


Rethinking the nineteenth century

Editors: Andrew Smith and Anna Barton


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