Contact: dd297@kent.ac.uk

My research at TEEME compares the projects of language standardisation in 19th-century India and 16th-17th century England. Specifically, I trace the rhetorical lineaments of two distinct yet connected moments: (a) the construction of Hindustani as a ‘modern standard’ under the aegis of the East India Company administration in India, as it sought to produce knowledge about -- and to regulate -- the ostensible linguistic chaos of the region; and (b) the early modern standardisation of English, in which the desire for a ‘kingdom of one’s own language’ was underscored by the long shadow of Latin, contentions with contemporary European vernaculars and regional dialects, and assertions of emergent national/cosmopolitan identity at home and abroad. In comparative case studies of writings about empire, grammars, dictionaries and literary histories, I note the anxieties of language reform resonant beyond their own moment, and examine the ways in which the figure of an early modern English on the cusp of its ‘triumph’ inflects the rhetoric of British reformers of Hindustani. My research aims to add nuance to the invention narratives of modern standard languages, and reflects on the way they inform national and imperial self-fashioning in early modern England and British India.

I have an undergraduate degree in Economics from Delhi University, and have trained and worked as a journalist before completing an MA and MPhil in English from the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. My MPhil dissertation -- 'Lyric Subjectivity and Modernist Ambiguity' -- projects a genealogy for Wallace Stevens’ modernist lyricism by examining select modalities of the lyric utterance in the canon of European lyric poetry. In 2011-12, I taught Hindi as a foreign language at Yale University, USA, as part of the Fulbright FLTA fellowship programme. Apart from having freelanced as a copy-editor, I have also worked as an English language-proficiency teacher at EFL University, Hyderabad between 2007 and 2010.