Fellow of the project Zukunftsphilologie
October 2014 – July 2015
The Debate on the Indian vs. Iranian Usage of Persian and the Formation of the Canon of Persian Poetry in Eighteenth-Century India
Expanding upon her dissertation, as a Zukunftsphilologie fellow Hajnalka seeks to investigate the debates, sparked by the linguistic innovations and distinctive poetic style of Bedil, on the competence of Indian poets who were not native speakers of Persian. She aims to pursue her proposed research in two steps: after identifying, through a comparative study of poems composed in response of other poets’ poems, the features of Bedil’s linguistic and poetic usage that distinguish him from other poets of the “Indian” – or, the “fresh”– style, she will examine the polemical literature on the innovations and interventions of Indian poets in the Persian literary language. Her study will contribute to a better understanding of the process through which late seventeenth-, early eighteenth-century Indian scholars negotiated, through philological, lexicographical, and literary writings, the place of Indian authors in the literary canon of the larger Persianate world.
Hajnalka Kovacs was educated at the ELTE University, Budapest, the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and the University of Chicago. After completing her PhD at the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations of the University of Chicago, from 2013 to 2014 she was a postdoctoral fellow in Literary Cultures of Muslim South Asia in the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University. Hajnalka specializes in the Persian and Urdu literature of the Indian Subcontinent, with particular focus on the intersection of literary aesthetics and religious beliefs in premodern Persian and Urdu poetry. Her dissertation, “‘The Tavern of the Manifestation of Realities’: The Masnavī Muḥīṭ-i A`ẓam by Mīrzā `Abd al-Qādir Bedil (1644–1720)” examines the poetry and mystical thought of the celebrated and highly influential Indo-Persian poet Mīrzā `Abd al-Qādir Bedil.