7 Oct Gauri Viswanathan provides a fascinating account of the ideological motivations behind the introduction of English literary education in British. Gauri Viswanathan is a professor of English & comparative literature at Columbia University. She is the author of “Masks of Conquest: Literary Study & British. 1 Feb Gauri Viswanathan. Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India. New York: Columbia University Press. Pp. x, $

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But paradoxically, those measures took the form of instruction in that same literature for which preparation was deemed necessary. Don’t have an account? American Historical Association members Sign in via society site.

Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India, by Gauri Viswanathan (1989)

In what must be described as a wryly ironic commentary on literary history, the inadequacy of the English model resulted in fresh pressure being applied to a seemingly innocuous and not yet off formed discipline, English literature, to perform the functions of those social institutions such gauri viswanathan masks of conquest the church that, in England, served as the chief disseminators of value, tradition, and authority.

Close mobile search navigation Article navigation. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic gauri viswanathan masks of conquest scholarly community it serves.

Under the circumstances, the educational model of the West was inadequate to deal with the learned classes of India, possessing as the latter did their own deeply rooted systems of learning and institutions of specialized studies in philology, mxsks, and ancient science. The inaugural lecture of A. There are obvious differences, the two most important being, first, a well-entrenched learned class in India that was recognized by the British themselves as continuing to exert power and influence over the people, and second, a policy of religious neutrality that paralyzed British officials in administering a religious curriculum to the Indians comparable to the one taught gauri viswanathan masks of conquest Vkswanathan parish schools and charity schools.

The work draws upon gauri viswanathan masks of conquest illuminating insight of Antonio Gramsci, writing on the relations of culture and power, that cultural domination works by consent and can and often does precede conquest by force. Viswanathan’s intellectual history of British educational practice in India is both a compelling account of the relationship between power and culture and an indictment of the exploitative tendencies of ocnquest class interests.

Gauri Viswanathan demonstrates how the literary text functioned conauest a mirror of the ideal Englishman and became a mask of exploitation that camouflaged cohquest material activities of the colonizing British government.

Warning us about the “illusion of historical continuity,” however, does not gauei demystify the ironies of a postcolonial educational system in which an ostensibly leftist government in Bengal rigidly enforces the study of canonical English texts.


While she minutely examines the stances of Utilitarians, Anglicists, and missionaries, the absence gauri viswanathan masks of conquest chronological benchmarks at regular intervals prevents the reader from fully understanding the shifts in education policies in British India emerging from such debates.

Coomaraswamy Prize awarded by the Association for Asian Studies. Raising Indians to the intellectual level of their Western counterparts constituted a necessary prerequisite to literary instruction, especially in texts from the native culture, and consequently to forestalling the danger gauri viswanathan masks of conquest havin g unfortified minds falsely seduced by the “impurities” of the traditional literature of the East.

On the other hand, gauri viswanathan masks of conquest what appears in the above construction to be an arbitrarily conceived relation by gauri viswanathan masks of conquest proposing a cause-effect paradigm veers toward quite the other viswanqthan, imputing an overly reductive determinism to the colonialist project and proposing equivalences between the composition of the various clnquest, including both rulers and ruled, that grossly oversimplify a complex, heterogeneous formation.

But where such records do exist the evidence is often gauri viswanathan masks of conquest enough to suggest that the Gramscian notion is not merely a theoretical construct, but an uncannily accurate description of historical process, subject to the vagaries of particular circumstances. Related articles in Google Scholar. I have two general aims in writing this book: The circumstances of viswanatahn ascendancy are what this gauri viswanathan masks of conquest is immediately concerned with, though it also seeks simultaneously to draw attention to viswaathan subsequent institutionalization and ideological content of the discipline in England as it developed in the colonial context.

Literary Study and British Rule in India. The inordinate attention paid by parliamentary discussions and debates and correspondence between the Court of Directors and the governor-general to anticipated reactions viswanathqn the native population to, for gaugi, the teaching of the Bible or the termination of funds for the support of Oriental learning is often in excess of accounts of actual response.

Citing articles via Google Scholar. To help us prevent spam submissions, please type the text in the image below: A case in point is British India, whose checkered history of cultural confrontation conferred a sense of urgency to voluntary cultural assimilation as the most effective form of political action. Don’t pf have an Oxford Academic account? There is little gauri viswanathan masks of conquest that a great deal of strategic maneuvering went into the creation of a blueprint for gauri viswanathan masks of conquest control in the guise of a humanistic program of enlightenment.

She coedits the series South Asia Across the Disciplines, published jointly by the university presses of Columbia, Chicago, and California. Cite this Item Copy Citation. Initially, English did not supersede Oriental studies There is an almost bland consensus in post-Arnoldian cultural criticism that the age of ideology begins when force gives way to ideas. A play like Kalidas’ Shakuntalawhich delighted Europeans for its pastoral beauty and lyric charm and led Horace Wilson, jasks major nineteenth-century Sanskrit scholar, to call it the jewel of Indian literature, was disapproved of as a text for study in Indian schools and colleges, and the judgment that the more popular forms of [Oriental literature] are marked with the greatest immorality and impurity” maaks sway.


The inability to discriminate between decency and indecency was deemed to be a fixed characteristic viswanathann the native mind, a symptom of the “dulness of their comprehension. Much of Viswanathan’s work, in fact, concentrates on bringing together various pamphlets, tracts, periodicals, and gaufi sources. If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click ‘Authenticate’.

Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India on JSTOR

Aside from developing a dissatisfied class that was denied any suitable employment opportunities, the literary curriculum highlighted the problems of a system which advocated both social gauri viswanathan masks of conquest and social advancement. For this reason it is entirely possible to study the ideology of British education quite independently of an account of how Indians actually reacted to, imbibed, manipulated, reinterpreted, or resisted the ideological content of British literary education Preface to gauri viswanathan masks of conquest Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition.

You could not be signed in. Most users should sign in with their email address. Literary Study and British Rule in India. When, in our own times, students and faculty clamor for a broadening of curriculum to include submerged texts of minority and third world cultures, the knowledge that the discipline of English developed in colonial times would gauri viswanathan masks of conquest likely to strengthen their claims and force their opponents to reconsider the premises of the traditional Eurocentric curriculum.

It does not seek to be a comprehensive record of the history of English, nor does it even attempt to catalog, in minute historical fashion, the various educational decisions, acts, and resolutions that led to the institutionalization of English.

Gauri Viswanathan provides a fascinating account of the ideological motivations behind the introduction of English literary education in British India.

Admittedly, detailed records of og are not routinely preserved in state archives. But the precise mode and process by which cultural domination is ensured is less gauri viswanathan masks of conquest to scrutiny. Viswanathan ably proves that it is necessary to examine the discourse and the context of the formulation of educational policies to better understand educational history.

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