Preetha Mani
Grant Category: Fulbright-Nehru Academic & Professional Excellence Award (Research)
Project Title: Tamil New Poetry, Indian Literature, Poetic Modernism
Field of Study: Literature
Home Institution: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Host Institution: Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, Tamil Nadu  
Grant Start Month: August, 2023
Duration of Grant: Nine months

Preetha Mani
Brief Bio:

Dr. Preetha Mani received her BA from Tufts University and her MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Mani is associate professor of South Asian literatures in the Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) and core faculty member in the program in comparative literature at Rutgers University. She is the author of The Idea of Indian Literature: Gender, Genre, and Comparative Method (Northwestern University Press and Permanent Black, 2022). Her research expertise lies in modern Hindi, Tamil, and Indian literatures, and she has published widely on issues of translation, women’s writing, and feminism in India; literary realism and modernism; postcolonial studies; and world literature. She has also published translations of Hindi and Tamil literature, autobiography, and criticism into English. Her research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, American Institute of Indian Studies, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Fulbright.

Dr. Mani’s Fulbright-Nehru project is examining Tamil new poetry, a form of modernist free verse that became popular in 1950s’ magazines and set a benchmark against which later poets defined their work. By the 1980s, new poetry writing had democratized the poetic form. Exploring new poetry’s development in print culture, she is proposing that this genre was a primary avenue for writers to cross ideological boundaries and to draw inspiration from each other and from writers in other Indian and world languages. Dr. Mani’s research is attempting to demonstrate that rather than being a linguistic outlier to the national canon, Tamil new poetry was a means for generating ideas for a postcolonial pan-Indian literature built on the poetic form.