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Siraj Ahmed
CUNY Research Foundation, Lehman College (Bronx, NY 10468-1527)
Philology, Colonial Law, and the Origins of Literary Studies

Since the nineteenth century, philology has governed critical method in the humanities. According to the scholarly consensus, philology's authority begins with the research university. My book argues that its authority derives instead from colonial law, which transformed indigenous life on a global scale. Scholars who have written disciplinary genealogies of literary studies have overlooked the fact that, long before the nineteenth-century research university, colonial rule imposed a philological approach to native languages and literatures. The privilege literary scholars now place on philology repeats a colonial hierarchy, which privileged a historical approach to literature above all others. My book aims instead to unearth the approaches to language and literature that philology buried in its colonial past.

Project fields:
British Literature; Comparative Literature

Awards for Faculty

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2015 – 12/31/2015