Laura Brueck Chair, Asian Languages and Cultures Department; Associate Professor of South Asian Literature and Culture

Laura Brueck (Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 2006) specializes in modern and contemporary Hindi literature, with a particular focus on literatures of resistance, popular literatures, and translation studies.

Her work for the last decade has focused on Hindi Dalit literature, or resistance writing by those formerly known as “untouchables.” Her book, Writing Resistance: The Rhetorical Imagination of HIndi Dalit Literature (Columbia University Press, 2014) analyzes the vernacular discursive sphere of contemporary Hindi Dalit literature. Writing Resistance also offers close readings of modern and contemporary Dalit short stories to argue that “Dalit consciousness” in short stories is established through narrative strategies such as melodramatic realism, dialect in dialogue as a marker of political consciousness, and Dalit feminist imaginaries. A collection of her translations of Hindi short stories, titled Unclaimed Terrain: Stories by Ajay Navaria, was published by Navayana Press in Delhi, India, and was named a “Best Book of 2013” by Pankaj Mishra in The Guardian. Her new book project considers Indian “pulp” fiction, particularly the genre of detective fiction and crime narratives. She is especially interested in the ways that the socio-political discourse of crime and criminality are reflected in twentieth century Hindi, Urdu, and English detective novels.

Brueck’s areas of specialization in teaching include South Asian literature in Hindi/Urdu, English, and in translation, Bollywood cinema, Indian epic literature, the theory and practice of translation, and South Asian civilization, with a particular focus on the modern politics of caste, class, and gender. She is a core faculty member in the Comparative Literary Studies Program and the co-director of the Global Humanities Initiative.

Books

Writing Resistance: The Rhetorical Imagination of Hindi Dalit Literature (Columbia University Press, 2014)

Translations

Unclaimed Terrain: Stories by Ajay Navaria (Navayana, 2013)

Essays

“Bending Biography: The Creative Intrusions of ‘Real Lives’ in Dalit Fiction,” Biography 40:1 (2017) pp. 77-92.

“Narrating Dalit Womanhood and the Aesthetics of Autobiography,” Journal of Commonwealth Literature (2017).

“Dalit Literary Discourse and the Problem of Premchand” in Dalit Studies: Unfreedom and Modernity in India, eds. Gopal Guru, Devesh Kapur, K. Satyanarayana, and Ramnarayan Rawat (Duke University Press 2016) pp. 180-201.

“At the Intersection of Gender and Caste: Re-scripting Rape in Dalit Feminist Narratives,” in South Asian Feminisms, eds. Ania Loomba and Ritty Lukose (Duke University Press, 2012) pp. 224-243.

“Marking the Boundaries of a New Literary Identity: The Assertion of ‘Dalit Consciousness’ in Dalit Literary Criticism,” in Religion and Identity in South Asia and Beyond: Essays in Honor of Patrick Olivelle, ed. Steven E. Lindquist (Anthem Press, 2011) pp. 347-368.

“Good Dalits and Bad Brahmins: Melodramatic Realism in Dalit Short Stories,” South Asia Research 30:2 (2010) pp. 125-144.

“The Emerging Complexity of Dalit Consciousness,” Himal South Asian 23:1 (2010) pp. 44-47

“Mainstreaming Marginalized Voices: the Dalit Lekhak Sangh and the Negotiations over Hindi Dalit Literature” in Claiming Power from Below: Dalits and the Subaltern Question in India, eds. Anne Feldhaus and Manu Bhagavan (Oxford University Press, 2008)

“Dalit Chetna in Dalit Literary Criticism,” Seminar no. 558 (2006)