Progressive Feeling: Ahmed Ali and the Search for Emotion

Progressive Feeling: Ahmed Ali and the Search for Emotion

Prof. Neetu Khanna, Comparative Literature, USC

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

This paper returns to the Marxist literary aesthetics of anti-colonial Indian author and founding member of the All-India Progressive Writers Association, Ahmed Ali. Foregrounding his experiments in the social realist novel of the 1940s, this discussion examines Ali’s inquiries into the question of revolutionary and nationalist emotion.  This talk further situates Ali in the context of his contentious position within the literary and artistic movement of the All-India Progressive Writers Association (PWA), a transnational Indian Marxist literary group active from 1930s through the 1950s. This talk is drawn from my current book project which demonstrates that, counter to contemporary dismissals of the PWA as a group of naive Marxist propagandists, the group’s literary engagements in social realism and the Indian English novel became the experimental staging ground for a rich exploration of racialized emotion and revolutionary feeling.  This discussion will center on Ali’s experiments in the realist novel in conjunction with his early political lectures on literary Progressivism.

Bio: Neetu Khanna is assistant professor of Comparative Literature at USC. Her areas of interest are in modern South Asian literatures, global Marxisms, literatures of decolonization, and feminist and queer theories.  She is currently completing her book manuscript entitled “Progressive Feeling: Visceral Realisms and Marxist Aesthetics in the Literature of Decolonizing India.”


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Sponsor(s): Center for India and South Asia