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Faculty Seminar | Literature as Recovery: Text Criticism and the Kannada Public Sphere


Conference Hall, Ground Floor, Training Centre, NLSIU


Wednesday, January 17, 2024, 4:00 pm

In this week’s faculty seminar, Ammel Sharon will present her paper titled “Literature as Recovery: Text Criticism and the Kannada Public Sphere” on Wednesday, 17th January, 2024. Dr. Kena Wani will be the discussant.


This dissertation studies how disciplinary knowledges shape the public sphere. Specifically, Ammel studies  the methods of three manuscriptologists over the 20th century and show how these shaped the Kannada public sphere in different ways. While Ammel puts the work of these manuscriptologists in  conversation with each other, Ammel frames each of their careers through one question, respectively.

These scholars, and the scholarly milieu they were part of, were involved in multiple public activities. They founded co-operative societies, associations, printing presses, newsletters and schools, they pioneered the editing and publication of hard-to-read manuscripts  that would find their way into textbooks and popular renditions, they intervened in caste-literary  discourse, and headed educational institutions. Yet, scholars in India have rarely turned the lens on themselves, and we have few rich and extensive histories of the sites of their work, that is, of  higher education in India.

In this dissertation, Ammel bring together an array of sources including several  memoirs of scholars, academic scholarship in Karnataka including essays, syllabi, university  magazines and textbooks, pamphlets, government records, legislations, matha publications,  correspondence and photographs to show how disciplinary knowledges can have a significant,  even fatal, influence on how societies and scholars understand themselves. The university, then,  remains a consequential actor in our times.

In this paper, Ammel will discuss the historical background, methods and concerns of Pha. Gu. Halakatti (1880-1964), a Virashaiva scholar outside the university based in Bijapur, and  D. L. Narasimhachar (1906-1971), a Kannada pandit who taught at the University of Mysore. Ammel ties these up in her conclusion by framing her dissertation’s concerns in  four broad themes: text criticism in community histories, the relationship between ‘discovery’ and  ‘recovery’ in the concerns of Kannada manuscriptologists, scientific method and social totality,  and the relationship between the regional university and religious institutions (mathas) in  Karnataka.