Professor’s comparative analysis goes ‘Beyond English’

Bhavya Tiwari’s new book garners national attention with honorable mention.


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Bhavya Tiwari, Ph.D.

India studies scholar Bhavya Tiwari, Ph.D., received an honorable mention for the Harry Levin Prize for her 2021 book “Beyond English: World Literature and India.” Awarded annually by the American Comparative Literature Association, this prestigious prize recognizes outstanding first books in the comparative literature discipline.

The Harry Levin Prize committee recognized Tiwari, an assistant professor in the department of modern and classical languages, for her exceptional work after rigorously reviewing nominated monographs by eminent scholars. These monographs can focus on varied literary traditions. Unlike other scholarly awards that focus on one language, literature or time period, the Harry Levin Prize has no such requirement, making the award highly competitive.

The committee hailed Tiwari’s monograph with the following citation:

Beyond English sets a new tone for comparing literatures in multilingual contexts through an engagement with authors, (self-) translators, poets, and film makers of the Global South. By bringing together literary traditions in Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam in a rich comparative dialogue, Tiwari makes a compelling case for India as a comparative zone, as she identifies immense possibilities in the creation of readerships through translation. Focusing on the works of the Bengali Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the Hindi poet Mahadevi Varma, and the Malayalam novelist Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, Tiwari demonstrates how multiple script- and speech-worlds can coexist through mutually enriching environments. In dialogue with, but without being solely indebted to well-known frameworks of postcolonial theory, Tiwari’s monograph demonstrates how thinkers and poets of the Global South can be read without too much emphasis on registers of the Global Anglophone.

In “Beyond English” Tiwari demonstrates how script and speech worlds can coexist through mutually beneficial environments. In dialogue with, but without being solely indebted to well-known frameworks of postcolonial theory, Tiwari’s monograph demonstrates how thinkers and poets of the Global South can be read without too much emphasis on registers of the Global Anglophone.

Striving to represent the elusive concept of world literature, “Beyond English” is part of Bloomsbury Academic’s “Literatures as World Literature” series. It recognizes that “World literature is so vast that any view of it cannot help but be partial; the question then becomes how to reduce the complex task of understanding and describing world literature.”

Fascinated with the evolution of language, Tiwari engages her students in learning various linguistic and literary traditions. She has published in prestigious avenues such as Comparative Literature Studies, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Journal of World Literature, Comparative Literature and Culture, The Routledge Companion to World Literature and A Companion to World Literature.

Tiwari maintains a robust research and teaching profile, including faculty advisor for the University of Houston Indian Student Association, the university’s representative for the American Institute of Indian Studies, and an undergraduate student mentor. She is also involved in FrameWorks, an Honors College program dedicated to elevating undergraduate critical inquiry in the interdisciplinary humanities through mentorship and peer-support, an annual symposium and a publication.