The Progressive Cosmopolis of South Asian Poetry: Critical Essays

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Prof. Akshaya Kumar
contact email: 

“Indian literature is one, though written in different languages”. This statement made by S. Radhakrishanan continues to inform Indian literary historiography in fundamental ways. This so-called ‘oneness’ has however been a matter of critical contestation. Sheldon Pollock, a modern-day Indologist, tends to place the variety of vernacular (bhasha) literatures in Sanskrit cosmopolis with all kinds of originary claims. But keeping in view rather checkered history of Indian literature, its oneness cannot be pinned down to one definitive originary moment. The bhasha critics tend to discover the oneness of Indian literatures in the revolutionary bhakti-past. Modern Indian literature, as a repository of multiple pasts and presents that Indian subcontinent has seen is actually placed at the cross-section many cosmopolises – cultural, ideological, aesthetic. The proposed critical volume of essay intends to build a case for ‘a progressive cosmopolis’ within which modern Indian literatures acquire a distinct ideological horizon. The progressive sentiment was of course propelled by the rise of Marxism at the global level in Europe on the early twentieth century, but it did not supplant the native traditions of protest and resistance. Indian language literatures of the subcontinent saw the rise of progressive writings across genres with distinct regional markers and coordinates. Indian progressive literature has many native variants, and its ideological textuality is determined as much by the European shades of Marxism or socialism, as by the local people-centric narratives of culture. The PWA traces its genesis to a group of four Urdu writers—Ahmed Ali, Rashid Jahan, Sajjad Zaheer, and Mahmudazzafar—who published a collection of short stories in an anthology titled Angarey in 1932. The movement gained new currency in the later years with more writers joining to its fold. Hindi literature underwent different progressive phases – from pragatisheel to janvadi. In Telugu literature progressive flourished under Abhyudaya Kavitvam. One of its prominent poets, Sri Sri, was instrumental in founding a more revolutionary group Virasam (Viplava Rachayitala Sangham) in 1970. In Punjabi progressive sentiment goes on to acquire a more virulent Naxalite/jujharvadi turn.  In Malayalam literature progressive literature took off with the formation of Jeevat Sahitya Sangham in 1936. In Bangla, the second PWA organized in 1938 in Calcutta provided a structural take off to progressive poetry and theatre. In Orissa, the Utkal Congress Samyavadi Karmi Sangha was at the forefront of progressive literature in Odiya. In Maharashtra, the film industry of Bombay came to embody the high tide of the progressive movement, whose values and ideas found representation in mainstream cinema. 


The proposed anthology intends to put together critical histories of progressive literature in various Indian languages to reveal the simultaneity of experience that the entire subcontinent has undergone right from 1920s onwards.  The anthology would be first of its kind for it aims to consist of essays on different Indian language literatures in terms of their tryst with progressive movement at large.  Critical essays are invited on: 


  1. Historical Trajectories of Progressive Poetry in Bhasha-literatures
  2. Individual Poets within a Language-specific Progressive Tradition 
  3. Comparative Study of Progressive Traditions among Indian/ South Asian Languages  
    1. Diaspora and Progressive Writers’ Movement 
    2. Translation and the Progressive Poetry
    3. Progressive Poetry and Nationalism 
    4. Film Lyrics and Progressive Poetry

The anthology will be published by well-known international publisher. Each essay should have a length of 6000-8000 words. The contributors should follow MLA stylesheet (9th Edition)


For inclusion in this collection, please submit abstracts (within 300 words) on or before 25th June 2023


Please send your abstracts on the following Email IDs




The deadline to send full chapters/ papers:   31 September, 2023


We shall accept already published papers if the authors secure necessary permission from the previous publishers. 


Name of the Editors


Prof. Akshaya Kumar 

Department of English and Cultural Studies

Panjab University, Chandigarh 


Dr. Amandeep Kaur 

Assistant Professor 

Department of English 

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar 



Bio-note of Editors


Corresponding Authors/ Editors:


Prof.  Akshaya Kumar is currently Professor and Chair, Department of English and Cultural Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He also holds Sarojini Naidu Chair professorship. Having more than three decades of post graduate teaching and research experience, his widespread literary and critical scholarship extends to the field(s) of Comparative Indian literature, Translation Studies, Critical Theory and Cultural Studies. He has extensively published in journals like South Asian ReviewIndian Literature and Translation Today. Major books to his credit include, Poetry, Politics and Culture: Indian Texts and Contexts (Routledge: Delhi, New York and London, 2009).[The book was recognized by World Literature Today as one among 60 “essential readings” on Indian Writings since 1947 in its special issue on Writing from Modern India, Nov. 2010] Ramanujan: In Profile and Fragment (Rawat: Delhi and Jaipur, 2004). His co-edited volumes include Cultural Studies in India: Essays on History, Politics & Literature (Routledge: New Delhi, New York and London, 2016), Dialogues Across Languages: Theory & Practice of Translation in India (Panjab University Publication Bureau: Chandigarh, 2016). Translated text to his credit include, Gau-Dhuli Vela: Punjabi Translations of Sudeep Sen’s English Poems (Editor and Co-translator), Autumn Press, Patiala, 2021. His ongoing project, A Critical History of Panjabi Literature is commissioned by Orient Blackswan.



Dr. Amandeep Kaur is an assistant professor of English at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Her research maps the growth of modern Indian poetry from its progressive phase during and after the colonial period, identifying its transformational propensities with a focus on its representation of resistance through the matrices of caste, class and gender in the post-progressive phase. She has also published two papers titled "Alienation of the Other: Examining Marginal Narratives in Select Punjabi Films" and "Kisan Protests in Punjab 1907–2021: A Literary Lineage of Resistance" in The Routledge Companion to Caste and Cinema in India (ed. by Judith Misrahi Barak & Joshil Abarahm) and Agrarian Reform and Farmer Resistance in Punjab (ed. by Prof. Shinder S. Thandi) respectively in 2022.