PASSIONS OF THE TONGUE.

From the University of California’s eScholarship Editions (have I really not posted about that amazing collection of online books, many of them freely accessible to all comers?), this looks extremely interesting: Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891–1970, by Sumathi Ramaswamy. From Chapter 2:

The putative unity suggested by the name “Tamil” notwithstanding, there is no monolithic presence which reigns in the regimes of Tamil devotion that so assiduously transform the language over time into an object of adulation, reverence, and allegiance. Instead, it is imagined in different ways in different contexts by different devotees. In four such regimes of imagination—the “religious,” the “classicist,” the “Indianist,” and the “Dravidianist”—Tamil is variously conceived as a divine tongue, favored by the gods themselves; as a classical language, the harbinger of “civilization” as a mother tongue that enables participation in the Indian nation; and as a mother/tongue that is the essence of a nation of Tamil speakers in and of themselves. Tamiḻppaṟṟu is thus not a static monolith, but evolves and shifts over time, entangled as it is in local, national, and global networks of notions and practices about language, culture, and community.
What follows in this chapter, then, is a discursive history of Tamil from the 1890s to the 1960s. By “discursive history” I mean the history of the discourses that gathered around Tamil as it became the focus of talk and practice…

(Via the indispensable wood s lot.)

Comments

  1. [H]ave I really not posted about that amazing collection of online books, many of them freely accessible to all comers?

    I remember someone posting about it, and I have Passions of the Tongue bookmarked somewhere as a result. But if you did, it was some time ago.

  2. aldiboronti says:

    Wonderful link! Thank you so much, lh.
    The first page of Public Access books produced gold for me, Irving Ehrenpreis’s Acts of Implication, on the works of Dryden, Swift, Pope and Austen. The first chapter is a fascinating analysis of one of my favourite Dryden plays, The Conquest of Granada.
    Thanks again!

  3. At last, the academic internet is finally making all those predictions come true!

  4. Cool link! Now I just have to rev up my brain to find stuff I’ll understand/appreciate.
    Who is Mark Woods (other than the fact that he is a popular blogger)?

  5. mj: Here‘s the information he’s willing to provide about himself.

  6. Yeah, I saw that too, which is why I asked.

  7. What ugly, ugly English. Having announced that there is “no monolithic presence which reigns in the regimes of Tamil devotion”, heesh blethers to the conclusion that “Tamiḻppaṟṟu is thus not a static monolith”. As opposed to the usual somersaulting monolith?
    What follows in this chapter, then, is a discursive history of Tamil from the 1890s to the 1960s. By “discursive history” I mean the history of the discourses that gathered around Tamil as it became the focus of talk and practice…
    This is writing for word-count: expand and waffle. Western imperialism lives on, but now we’re hegemonizing them with our academese.

  8. Yeah, I wasn’t thrilled about the writing either, but if the content is interesting enough I’m willing to hack my way through a thicket of academese.

  9. Yeah, I wasn’t thrilled about the writing either…
    Then protest about it. Writing like that insults its subject as well as its readers.
    “If the changes that we fear be thus irresistible, what remains but to acquiesce with silence, as in the other insurmountable distresses of humanity? It remains that we retard what we cannot repel, that we palliate what we cannot cure. Life may be lengthened by care, though death cannot be ultimately defeated: tongues, like governments, have a natural tendency to degeneration; we have long preserved our constitution, let us make some struggles for our language.” — Samuel Johnson.

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