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Comparative Literary History in Assamese: Some Possibilities


The essay attempts to explore some possibilities of Comparative Literary History with respect to Assamese literature. Writing a literary history is a complex business, and the tenets underlying its conceptualisation and execution have often been determined by factors other than purely ‘literary’ ones. In the essay, the conceptual dimensions of literary historiography are examined in relation to its recently developed nexus with comparative literature and cultural studies. Within this theoretical framework, the essay briefly touches upon the development of literary historiography within the Indian context in the precolonial, colonial and postcolonial periods, and subsequently moves on to discuss its position vis-a-vis Assamese literature, particularly in the latter’s institutionalisation as a subject for graduate and postgraduate study under Gauhati University, Assam, in the post-Independence period. The essay deals specifically with the efforts of Professor Satyendranath Sarma, prominent academician and literary historian of Assam, towards the academic study of Assamese literary history. It explores the possibilities of comparative literary history in Assamese—one that is not based on a linear narrative of succeeding generations of poets and writers recorded and documented under a progressive model of impact and response, but rather a history of literary reception with many complex and multidimensional narratives often at loggerheads with each other.

Key words: Literary Historiography, Comparative Literature, Comparative Cultural Studies, Indian Literature, Assamese Literature, Satyendranath Sarma


Literary Historiography, Comparative Literature, Comparative Cultural Studies, Indian Literature, Assamese Literature, Satyendranath Sarma



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