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Laura Brueck

Professor of South Asian and Comparative Literature

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin, 2006

Research Areas:

Caste and race, Dalit literature and literary publics, Indian detective fiction and media, modern and contemporary Hindi literature, theory and practice of translation, postcolonial literature and literary theory, South Asian cinema and media studies, comparative literature, world literature.

My first book, Writing Resistance: The Rhetorical Imagination of Hindi Dalit Literature (Columbia University Press, 2014) analyzes the vernacular discursive sphere of contemporary Hindi Dalit literature. In this book I trace the debates among Dalit writers as they define a specifically Dalit literary critical approach. I emphasize the significance of the Dalit literary sphere as a “counterpublic” space in which these very debates allow for contemporary Dalit social and political identity formation. I also perform close readings of contemporary Hindi Dalit short stories and focus on the diverse aesthetic and stylistic strategies employed by a range of writers whose class, gender, and geographic backgrounds shape their individualized literary voices. This is a study that is committed to reading and analyzing Dalit literature as literature, while simultaneously seeking to understand the complexities of the socio-political and identity-based origins from which it emerges.

I have published numerous English translations of Hindi Dalit short stories in venues like South Asia: A Journal of South Asian Studies, Words Without Borders, Frontline, and my book, Unclaimed Terrain: Stories by Ajay Navaria (Navayana 2013). Unclaimed Terrain was named a “Best Book of 2013” by Pankaj Mishra in The Guardian. I have also co-edited several books and special journal issues on topics like South Asian sound studies, gender and vernacular literature, and translating caste.

I am currently writing a book that is tentatively titled, Indian Pulp: The Local and the Global in Indian Detective Fictions. The book argues that genre fiction offers a space for a unique and influential set of cultural and political imaginaries that operate both locally and globally. It further argues that critical attention to popular Indian literature can disrupt the illusory neatness of the categories that continue to inform contemporary “world literature” discourse: the increasingly unstable binaries of anglophone and non-anglophone literatures, domestic and foreign literatures, and local and global literatures. I am also currently co-editing, with Praseeda Gopinath, the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Postcolonial and Decolonial Literature.

I am a core faculty member in the Comparative Literary Studies Program and the co-founder and co-director, with Ivy Wilson, of the Race, Caste, and Colorism Project. I am also a founding board member of the Modern Endangered Archives Program.


book cover writing resistence Writing Resistance: The Rhetorical Imagination of Hindi Dalit Literature (Columbia University Press, 2014)


book cover unclaimed terrain Unclaimed Terrain: Stories by Ajay Navaria (Navayana, 2013)



Edited Volumes

cover of literary sentiments Literary Sentiments in the Vernacular
 Gender and Genre in Modern South Asia (1st edition 2022)



Tejubehan, “Women and Bicycles,”    Words Without Borders (Oct 2018 issue)



book cover indian sound cultures Indian Sound Cultures, Indian Sound Citizenship (University of Michigan Press, 2020 and Primus Books, 2022)


Selected Essays:

“South Asian Crime Fiction,” co-authored with Francesca Orsini, Eds. Jesper Guldall, Stewart King, and Alistair Rolls, The Cambridge Companion to World Crime Fiction. Cambridge University Press 2022, pp. 141-159.

“The Democratic Aspirations of Dalit Literature,” Ed. Manas Ray, State of Democracy in India: Essays on Life and Politics in Contemporary Times. Delhi: Primus 2022, pp. 503-518.  

“Mother Tongues: The Disruptive Possibilities of Feminist Vernaculars,” South Asia Vol. 43 no. 5 (2020). pp. 988-1008. Republished in Literary Sentiments in the Vernacular: Gender and Genre in Modern South Asia, Eds. Gupta, Brueck, Harder, Nijhawan (London: Routledge 2022).

“Bhais behaving badly: Vernacular masculinities in Hindi detective novels,” South Asian Popular Culture, 18:1 (2020) pp. 29-46.

“Narrating Dalit Womanhood and the Aesthetics of Autobiography,” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 51:1 (2019) pp. 25-37.

“Bending Biography: The Creative Intrusions of ‘Real Lives’ in Dalit Fiction,” Biography 40:1 (2017) pp. 77-92.

“Dalit Literary Discourse and the Problem of Premchand,” Eds. Gopal Guru, Devesh Kapur, K. Satyanarayana, and Ramnarayan Rawat, Dalit Studies: Unfreedom and Modernity in India. Duke University Press 2016, pp. 180-201.

“At the Intersection of Gender and Caste: Re-scripting Rape in Dalit Feminist Narratives,” Eds. Ania Loomba and Ritty Lukose, South Asian Feminisms. Duke University Press 2012, pp. 224-243.

“Good Dalits and Bad Brahmins: Melodramatic Realism in Dalit Short Stories,” South Asia Research 30:2 (2010) pp. 125-144.

“Mainstreaming Marginalized Voices: the Dalit Lekhak Sangh and the Negotiations over Hindi Dalit Literature,” Eds. Anne Feldhaus and Manu Bhagavan, Claiming Power from Below: Dalits and the Subaltern Question in India. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Selected Recordings:

Translation Politics: Ajay Navaria & Laura Brueck in Conversation with Vijeta Kumar
(June 27, 2022)

Intersections of Dalit & Black Lives—A Conversation with Suraj Yengde
(May 18, 2021)