Aparna Dharwadker

Position title: Professor, English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies

Email: adharwadker@wisc.edu

Address:
7125 Helen C White Hall

Interests
Colonial and postcolonial studies, comparative modern drama, modern Indian theatre, contemporary world theatre, postcolonial modernisms, the global South Asian diaspora
Aparna Dharwadker

Degrees and Institutions

  • Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 1990
  • M.A., University of Delhi, 1977
  • B.A., University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, 1975

Selected Publications

  • A Poetics of Modernity: Indian Theatre Theory, 1850 to the Present. Oxford University Press, 2019. cvii +519 pp. Scholarly edition of seminal works of theatre theory and criticism by Indian practitioners (in English, and in English translation from ten other languages). Includes a comprehensive Introduction (27,000 words), headnotes, notes, annotations, Indexes, and my translations of thirteen essays from Hindi and Marathi.
    • Winner, 2020 Joe A. Callaway Prize for the Best Book in Drama or Theatre published in 2018-2019.
    • Honorable Mention, ATHE 2020 Outstanding Book Award.
  • The Collected Plays of Girish Karnad. 3 vols. Revised ed. Oxford University Press (2020). Introductions to vols. 1, 2, and 3.
  • “Cultural Interweaving and Translation: Three Iconic Moments in Indian Theatre, 1859-1979.” In Theatrical Speech Acts: How to Perform Interweaving with Words, ed. Erika Fischer-Lichte et al. (Routledge, 2019).
  • “The Really Poor Theatre: Postcolonial Economies of Performance.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 31 (2017).
  • One Day in the Season of Rain (Penguin Modern Classics, 2015). Collaborative scholarly translation of Mohan Rakesh’s modernist Hindi play, Ashadh ka ek din, with Introduction, Notes, and other editorial material.
  • “Modern Indian Theatre.” In The Routledge Handbook of Asian Theatre, ed. Siyuan Liu (2015).
  • “Modernism, ‘Tradition,’ and History in the Postcolony: Vijay Tendulkar’s Ghashiram kotwal (1972).”  Theatre Journal 65 (special issue on “Modernism,” December 2013). Honorable Mention for the Oscar G. Brockett Essay Prize, American Society for Theatre Research (2014).
  • Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India Since 1947 (University of Iowa Press and Oxford University Press, 2005). Winner, Joe A. Callaway Prize for the Best Book in Drama or Theatre published in 2004-2005 (2006). Finalist, George Freedley Memorial Award, Theatre Library Association (2006).
  • “India’s Theatrical Modernity: Re-Theorizing Colonial, Postcolonial, and Diasporic Formations.” Theatre Journal 63 (2011).
  • “Representing India’s Pasts: Time, Culture, and the Problems of Performance Historiography.” In Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography, ed. Thomas Postlewait and Charlotte Canning. University of Iowa Press (2010).
  • “Criticism, Critique, and Translation.” Seminar 588 (2008).
  • “Mohan Rakesh, Modernism, and the Postcolonial Present.” South Central Review 25.1 (2008).
  • Introductions to The Collected Plays of Girish Karnad, 3 vols. Oxford University Press (2005-17).
  • “Diaspora and the Theatre of the Nation.” Theatre Research International 28.3 (2003).
  • “Diaspora, Nation, and the Failure of Home: Two Contemporary Indian Plays.” Theatre Journal 50.1 (1998).
  • “Language, Identity, and Nation in Postcolonial Indian-English Literature.” (with Vinay Dharwadker). In English Postcoloniality: Literatures from Around the World. Ed. Gita Rajan and Radhika Mohanram. Greenwood Press (1996).
  • “Historical Fictions and Postcolonial Representation: Reading Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq.” PMLA 110.1 (1995).
  • “John Gay, Bertolt Brecht, and Postcolonial Antinationalisms.” Modern Drama 38.1 (1995).
  • “Performance, Meaning, and the Materials of Contemporary Indian Theatre: An Interview with Girish Karnad.” New Theatre Quarterly 44 (1995).

Current Research

Database of Printed Drama in India, 1840 to the Present. Online database of modern Indian drama, consisting of about 24,000 citations covering 16 languages. Developed in collaboration with the UW Digital Collections Centre. Scheduled to go live in Fall 2021.

Cosmo-Modernism, Multilingualism, and Theatre: Modernist Performance in India. A comparative study of modernist drama and theatre in India (1950-present) in seven languages, with extensive reference to the current focus on global modernisms.

Contested Modernities and the Modernization of Urban Theatre in India. A study of the transformative conditions under which urban theatre has evolved in India since the mid-nineteenth century. Supported by a 12-month fellowship from the NEH (to be held in calendar year 2022).

Professional Distinctions

Professor Dharwadker has received fellowships from the NEH (1998 and 2022), the American Institute of Indian Studies (1998 and 2007), the International Research Centre, Freie Universität, Berlin (2011 and 2015-16), the Newberry Library, and the Folger Library, among others. In 2018 she received the two-year Vilas Associates Award from the UW-Madison Graduate School, and from 2007-12 she held the H.I. Romnes Fellowship at UW-Madison for outstanding scholarship in the humanities. She serves, or has served, on the Executive Committee of the American Society for Theatre Research (2018-21), the ASTR Translation Prize Committee (Chair, 2021), the advisory board of Studies in Theatre and Performance (2020- ), the editorial board of Contemporary Literature (2016- ), the Fulbright Screening Committee for India (2006), the Gerald Kahan Prize Committee of the American Society for Theatre Research (2005-08), and the editorial board of Genre (1991-95). Professor Dharwadker has lectured widely at institutions in North America, Europe, and India, including Harvard University, Washington University, Freie Universität (Berlin), Ludwig Maximilians Universität (Munich), Yale University, University of Toronto, Rutgers University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, and Delhi University.

Books

  • Dharwadker, Aparna. Poetics of Modernity. Oxford University Press, 2020. Print.

    Winner of the prestigious Joe A. Callaway Prize for the Best Book in Drama and Theatre (2020)

    A Poetics of Modernity is a scholarly edition of theoretically significant writing on theatre by modern Indian theatre practitioners, in English and in English translation from nine other languages. The selections are drawn from book-length works, essays, lectures, prefatory materials, letters, autobiographies, interviews, and memoirs by playwrights, directors, actors, designers, activists, and policy-makers. A significant proportion of the primary materials included in the volume have been translated into English for the first time, creating an archive of theory and criticism that has not been available earlier to scholars, teachers, students, or general readers interested in modern Indian theatre.

    A comprehensive Introduction to the selection brings new precision to the concept of “modernity” in Indian theatre by defining it in relation to historically unprecedented processes and conditions that first emerged around the mid-nineteenth century, and have continued into the early-twenty first century. The primary materials are arranged chronologically, and each entry includes a headnote on the author and work as well as annotations and explanatory notes.

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  • Dharwadker, Aparna. Collected Plays of Girish Karnad Vol. 1. Oxford University Press, 2020. Print.

    The troubled reign of a fourteenth-century sultan of Delhi helps dramatize
    the crisis of secular nationhood in post-Independence India. A twelfthcentury
    folktale about ‘transposed heads’ offers a path-breaking model for
    a quintessentially ‘Indian’ theatre in postcolonial times. The folktale about
    a woman with a snake lover explores gender relations within marriage.
    Individual human sexuality meets the historical debate on violence in Indian
    culture. The plays in this volume span roughly the first half of the career of
    Girish Karnad, one of India’s pre-eminent playwrights.

    The three-volume set of Karnad’s Collected Plays brings together English
    versions of his important works. Each volume contains an extensive
    introduction by theatre scholar Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker, Professor
    of English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, University of Wisconsin,
    Madison. The introductions trace the literary and theatrical evolution of
    Karnad’s work over six decades and position it in the larger context of
    modern Indian drama. In addition, they comment on Karnad’s place as author
    and translator in a multilingual performance culture and the relation of his
    playwriting to his work in the popular media.

    Each of these volumes serves as a collector’s item, making Karnad’s works
    accessible to theatre lovers worldwide.

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  • Dharwadker, Aparna. Collected Plays of Girish Karnad Vol. 2. Oxford University Press, 2020. Print.

    A violent history of the anti-caste movement in twelfth-century Karnataka. A myth from the Mahabharata depicted as a narrative of passion, betrayal, and parricide. The inner world of a man whose public life was a continual war against British colonialism. A reflection on the opposition between the spiritual and the erotic. The confrontation between a writer and her electronic image. The plays and monologues in this volume span the latter half of the career of Girish Karnad, one of India’s pre-eminent contemporary playwrights.

    The three-volume set of Karnad’s Collected Plays brings together English versions of his s important works. Each volume contains an extensive introduction by theatre scholar Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker, Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin. The introductions trace the literary and theatrical evolution of Karnad’s work over six decades and position it in the larger context of modern Indian drama. In addition, they comment on Karnad’s place as author and translator in a multilingual performance culture, the relation of his playwriting to his work in the popular media, and his and his larger-than-life presence as an engaged intellectual in the Indian public sphere.

    Each of these volumes serves as a collector’s item, making Karnad’s works accessible to theatre lovers worldwide.

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  • Dharwadker, Aparna. Collected Plays of Girish Karnad Vol. 3. N.p., 2020. Print.

    The tale of a mythic king’s aggression against his offspring, and his desperation to escape the curse of old age laid upon him in the prime of life. The anxieties that torment a middle-class family as their daughter awaits the arrival of the ‘suitable boy’ from abroad whom she has never met. The morphing of the city of Bangalore, whose founding myth celebrates its human ambience, into India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ where strangers are thrown together, get entangled, and are violently pulled apart. This volume contains the very first play, as well as the two most recent works, by Girish Karnad, one of India’s pre-eminent contemporary playwrights.

    The three-volume set of Karnad’s Collected Plays brings together English versions of his important works. Each volume contains an extensive introduction by theatre scholar Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker, Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin. The introductions trace the literary and theatrical evolution of Karnad’s work over six decades and position it in the larger context of modern Indian drama. In addition, they comment on Karnad’s place as author and translator in a multilingual performance culture, the relation of his playwriting to his work in the popular media, and his and his larger-than-life presence as an engaged intellectual in the Indian public sphere.

    Each of these volumes serves as a collector’s item, making Karnad’s works accessible to theatre lovers worldwide.

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  • Dharwadker, Aparna. One Day in the Season of Rain. Penguin Moder Classics, 2015. Print.

    In a remote village in the foothills of the Himalayas, a gifted but
    unknown poet named Kalidas has nurtured an unconventional
    romance with his youthful muse, Mallika. When the royal palace
    at Ujjayini offers him the position of court poet, Kalidas hesitates,
    but Mallika persuades him to leave for the distant city so that his
    talent may find recognition. Convinced that he will send for her,
    she waits.

    He returns years later, a broken man trying to
    reconnect with his past, only to discover that time has passed him
    by. Titled Ashadh ka ek din in the original Hindi, Mohan Rakesh’s
    play is a poignant story of love, separation, and abandonment,
    and a modernist reimagining of the life of India’s greatest classical
    poet. The new English translation by Aparna Dharwadker and
    Vinay Dharwadker was authorized by the author’s estate, and
    contains a full editorial apparatus aimed at readers, teachers,
    dramaturgs, and theatre directors.

    Flyer for One Day in the Season of Rain.
    Poster for performance of One Day in the Season of Rain.

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  • Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India Since 1947 cover
    Dharwadker, Aparna. Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India Since 1947. University of Iowa and Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.

    Winner of the prestigious Joe A. Callaway Prize for the Best Book in Drama and Theatre (2005); Finalist, George Freedley Memorial Award, Theatre Library Association (2006)

    Theatres of Independence is a comprehensive study of drama, theatre, and urban performance in post-independence India. Combining theatre history with theoretical analysis and literary interpretation, Aparna Dharwadker examines the unprecedented conditions for writing and performance that the experience of new nationhood created in a dozen major Indian languages. The book also offers detailed discussions of the major plays, playwrights, directors, dramatic genres, and theories of drama that have made the contemporary Indian stage a vital part of postcolonial and world theatre. Theatres of Independence will be of interest to students and scholars of modern drama, comparative theatre, theatre history, and the new national and postcolonial literatures.

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