South Asian Studies Lecture Series: Martha Ann Selby


Thursday, April 8, 2021, 5:00pm

Landscape as Affective Space in Old Tamil Poetry
Martha Ann Selby, The University of Texas at Austin

In this presentation, I will examine two different methods of reading Old Tamil poetry, composed in the early centuries of the Common Era (often designated as caṅkam poetry, that of the “academy”). I pay particular attention to the ways in which we as readers should feel our ways through the poems, both from within the world of classical literary convention, and from the standpoint of uri, the “emotional content” of any given poem. I consider the concept of tiṇai, often translated as “landscape,” and how the reliance on landscape conventions alone to read these poems can result in overdetermined and sometimes even dissonant readings. I suggest that by regarding tiṇai through the lens of affect theory, we arrive at better readings more true to their emotional content, and in the end, readings that render Tamil landscapes as interpretively less bounded affective spaces.

This lecture is open to all interested members of the Harvard community.
Register in advance with your Harvard email address.