Associate Professor
ploth@email.unc.edu
New West 108

Adjunct Associate Professor in English and Comparative Literature

Coordinator of the South Asia Program, Department of Asian Studies
Group Coordinator, South Asia Faculty Working Group
Member of Advisory Committee, Department of Asian Studies
Member of Executive Committee, Carolina Asia Center

Research

With a Ph.D. in South Asian area studies and comparative literature (2003, Columbia University), I have broad research and teaching interests, spanning Hindi-Urdu, Bangla, and Sanskrit literary cultures, as well as the vernacular theatres of North India.  However, I mostly work in Hindi, and am especially drawn to the Hindu epics in modern literature and theatre, especially Ramlila, a devotional form of theatre which enacts the story of the Ramayana in an annual fall festival.  Currently, I am working on a book project in connection with neighborhood Ramlilas in the vicinity of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, and one of the chief source books for Ramlila scripts, the Radheshyam Ramayana, which dates to the early twentieth century.  This book project traverses literature, performance, and ethnography, and engages with critical issues related to class, caste, gender, and religious identity.  My first book, Epic Nation: Reimagining the Mahabharata in the Age of Empire, concerns the mythological genre in Hindi, and in particular, modern literary adaptations of Mahabharata in the early twentieth century, against the backdrop of the independence movement and a renaissance of classical Hindu themes in Indian arts and letters.

Courses

ASIA 61: First-Year Seminar: India Through the Lens of Master Filmmakers
ASIA 152: Survey of South Asian Cultural History
ASIA/CMPL 261: India through Western Eyes
ASIA 262: Nation, Film, and Novel in Modern India
ASIA 331/PWAD 331/HIST 335: Cracking India: Partition and its Legacy in South Asia
ASIA 332: The Story of Rama in India
ASIA 333: The Mahabharata: Remembered and Reimagined
ASIA/RELI 382: The Story of Rama in India–Experiential
ASIA/RELI 383: The Mahabharata: Remembered and Reimagined–Experiential

Publications

people.lothspeich.book.epicnation Epic Nation: Reimagining the Mahabharata in the Age of Empire.  New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009.

 

Selected articles

“Chasing the Parsi Theatre in Bareilly,” TDR: The Drama Review T226, 59:2 (Summer 2015): 9-45, with supplemental online media.

“Behind the Scenes of Heroic Abhimanyu,” TDR: The Drama Review T226, 59:2 (Summer 2015): 46-57, with supplemental online media.

“The Radheshyam Ramayana and the Sanskritization of Khari Boli Hindi,” Modern Asian Studies 47:5 (September 2013): 1644-1677.

“The Mahabharata’s Imprint on Contemporary Literature and Film,” in Popular Culture in a Globalised India, ed. K. Moti Gokulsing and Wimal Dissanayake (London: Routledge, 2009), 82-94.

“The Mahābhārata as National History and Allegory in Modern Tales of Abhimanyu,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 71:2 (June 2008): 255-277.

“Unspeakable Outrages and Unbearable Defilements: Rape Narratives in the Literature of Colonial India,” Postcolonial Text 3:1 (2007): 1-19.  http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/article/view/604/0

Bibliography

“The Mahābhārata in Hindu Tradition,” Oxford Bibliographies in Hinduism, edited by Tracy Coleman,

http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/ revised ed. (uploaded May 2018).

Curatorial and Creative Work

Co-curator, “Ramlila: The Story of Rama and Indian Devotional Theatre” [multi-media exhibit]; The FedEx Global Education Center at UNC at Chapel Hill; August 18, 2015-December 13, 2015. http://global.unc.edu/event/ramlila-exhibition/

Curator, “The Ramlila in Pandit Radheshyam’s Bareilly (and other venues, big and small)” [multi-media exhibit]; Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, WI; October 18, 2014; and The Chatham County Library, Pittsboro, NC; August 25-October 31, 2015.

Producer and co-organizer, Vīr Abhimanyu (Heroic Abhimanyu), Indian Medical Association Hall, Bareilly, India, December 10, 2012.[play], Indian Medical Association Hall, Bareilly, India, December 10, 2012.