Erotic Visions: Poetry, Literature, and Book Arts from Avadh (1754-1857)

dc.contributor.authorDi Pietrantonio, Natalia Angela
dc.contributor.chairDadi, Muhammad Iftikhar
dc.contributor.committeeMemberMcGowan, Kaja Maria
dc.contributor.committeeMemberGhosh, Durba
dc.contributor.committeeMemberRobinson, Cynthia
dc.description.abstractErotic Visions: Poetry, Literature, and Book Arts critically examines the binaries of sacred/profane and Hindu/Muslim that have shaped the art historical scholarship on South Asian and Islamic art. I argue that representations of copulation, female nudes, and amorous couples produced in and around the Shi'a Muslim court of northern India (Avadh) from 1754 to 1857 created a universe of affect and relationality. This world owes much to the philosophical, literary, and sensorial values of the native rulers and is at variance with the narratives advanced by encroaching British colonialism. The ethical and aesthetic depth of Avadhi art and architecture has, as a result of colonial classifications, been understudied and viewed simply as decadent and unoriginal. Moreover, paintings from Avadh have faded into art historical obscurity since they challenge what constitutes a canonical image and archive for various disciplines. By studying the visual history of the Avadhi court with reference to literature and ethics, I urge the disciplines of art history and social and cultural analysis to broadly rethink the ways in which a transference of political authority occurs in the interstices of empire. My source materials include miniature paintings, illuminated manuscripts, Urdu and Persian poetry, short stories, royal autobiographies, and musical treatises. By studying the images and texts as imbricated rather than as discrete and hermetic genres and practices, I map Indo-Persianate sensibilities of religion, ethics, and politics across media. This approach to the study of Avadhi art also attends to its subsequent reception and circulation in India and in Western institutional frameworks such as museums and auction houses. My work addresses broader questions of orientalism, colonialism, and the power of representation. How, for example, does erotica enforce the oriental despot paradigm of decline and decay? And how can this very material be used to unravel it? Genres, I argue, provide important insights since Avadhi miniatures, whose compositions represent in some form or another sexual arousal, were in the eighteenth century part of literary, poetic, and visual book genres.
dc.identifier.otherbibid: 10489421
dc.rightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International*
dc.subjectIslamic studies
dc.subjectBritish colonalism
dc.subjectminiature painting
dc.subjectPersian literature
dc.subjectUrdu poetry
dc.subjectArt history
dc.titleErotic Visions: Poetry, Literature, and Book Arts from Avadh (1754-1857)
dc.typedissertation or thesis
dcterms.license of Art, Archaeology and Visual Studies University of Philosophy D., History of Art, Archaeology and Visual Studies


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