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Tagore Lecture In Modern Indian Literature

The  Endowment in Modern Indian Literature was established in May 1999 thanks to the generous support of Professor Emeritus Narahari Umanath Prabhu and his wife Mrs. Suman (Sumi) Prabhu.  Professor and Mrs. Prabhu sought to honor Rabindranath Tagore, a celebrated literatus and musician, one of the great luminaries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  In addition, with their endowment, Professor and Mrs. Prabhu sought to “project a strongly positive image of South Asian literature."  The Tagore Lecture Series will, in time, include writers associated with all parts of the South Asian region.

The Tagore Lecture is typically held in early autumn, organized by the Cornell University South Asia Program. This event is free and open to the public. 

Anuradha Roy (2019)

On September 20, 2019, Indian author Anuradha Roy delivered the 11th annual Rabindrinath Tagore Lecture in Modern Indian Literature, on "The Clay Typewriter."

This lecture discussed how mud and words are connected in herwork; how earth, water, air, and fire fusing to create pots is a metaphor for the way in which real and imagined archives can come together in a writer’s imagination and result in fictional worlds. She expands on this metaphor by talking about how one particular fictional world came about for her through her discovery of the German artist Walter Spies and his connections with Rabindranath Tagore and how these and other historical figures entered herbook and helped her to make sense of the political and moral place of the writer in today’s world.

The full lecture can be viewed at 

Neel Mukherjee (2018)

On September 28, 2018, Neel Mukherjee, an India-born writer who lives in London, delivered the 10th annual Rabindrinath Tagore Lecture in Modern Indian Literature, on "The Mirror and the Windowpane: Two Paths for the Novel."

The world of writers divides into two kinds: those who write about themselves, and those who write about others. What is it that gives fiction truth? Is authenticity the right value to ask of fiction? How is authenticity, in a genre founded on making things up, measured?

The full lecture can be viewed at:

Shyam Selvadurai (2017)

On September 8, 2017, Sri Lankan-Canadian author, Shyam Selvadurai spoke on "Writing Myself into the Diaspora."  He read from his novel "The Hungry Ghosts," and talks about what it means to be a writer working from the hyphen between Sri Lankan and Canadian.

Shyam Selvadurai was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1965. He came to Canada with his family at the age of nineteen. He has studied creative writing and theatre and has a BFA from York University, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.

The full lecture can be viewed here:

Ranjit Hoskote (2016)
Ranjit Hoskote

Ranjit Hoskote has long been drawn to the form of the concerto, both for its own beauty and elegance, and as a metaphor for his practice as a poet. For Hoskote, one of India’s most celebrated literary figures, the poet is a soloist and the outside world provides the orchestra. The relationship between soloist and orchestra can take a variety of modes: dialogue, contest, divergence, and collaboration.

In this year’s Tagore Modern Indian Literature Lecture, Hoskote addressed the tension between contemporary poetry and current cultural and political debates over India’s national identity in a globalized world. He also discussed some of the contexts in which he writes his own poetry, including diaspora, multilingualism, translation, ecological crisis, transcultural encounters, and the rise of illiberal demagoguery.

The lecture took place on September 23 at the A.D. White House. Link for the full lecture:

Mohammed Hanif (2015)
Amit Chaudhuri (2013)
Amit Chauduri Photo
Christi Merrill (2012)
Christi Merrill Photo

"Rajasthani Tales in English: Lessons Learned Translating the Work of Vijaydan Detha"

Tahmima Anam (2011)
Tahmima Anam Photo

"An Accidental Novelist: Ethnography, Fiction, and Sultana's Dream"

Kiran Nagarkar (2010)
Kiran Nagarkar Photo

"You Cannot Choose Your Parents But You Can Choose Your Ancestors"

Sunil Gangopadhyay (2009)
Sunikl Gangopadhyay Photo

"Poet Rabindranath Tagore's Involvement in the National Movement Against the British Rule in India"