Women's Writing Before Woolf: A Social Reference/Ania Loomba

Ania Loomba (1955-present)Edit

Anai Loomba is an Indian literary scholar. Loomba currently educates at the University of Pennsylvania and holds the Catherine Bryson Chair in the English department. Loomba's areas of research include early modern literature, histories of race and colonisation, postcolonial studies, feminist theory, and contemporary Indian literature and culture. Loomba's most notable works include Gender, Race, Renaissance Drama (1989), Colonialism/Postcolonialism (1998), and Shakespeare, Race and Colonialism (2002).

BiographyEdit

Ania Loomba was born to father Satish and mother Primla Loomba in Simla, India in 1955. Loomba was raised “a child of the left movement”[1] with activist parents; her father was a full-time trade unionist and her mother was a schoolteacher. Loomba’s parents were both members of the Communist party in India. Loomba has stated that she was “indoctrinated in a liberal version of anti-case politics.”[1] Due to both of Loomba’s parents being members of activist parties, Loomba found herself inadvertently a member of the activist parties and significantly influenced by “the Second Wave Feminism movement, which came to India in the 1970’s and was in dialogue with the Marxist movement”[1] as well as “the Black Power movement”[1]. Stemming from a young age, Loomba has always been interested in reading and developing her personal beliefs and education based on the information and perceptions of those she is reading; Loomba commonly read literature subjected to her genre and theme attractions.

There is limited information regarding Loomba’s early education in India, however, she received her BA (Hons.), M.A., and M. Phil. degrees focusing on English Literature and Philosophy from the University of Delhi, India (1981-1995) and her Ph. D. focusing on Philosophy from the University of Sussex, UK. (1987). As a result of her upbringing, Loomba focused much of her work on the themes of racism (the history and future of), colonialism, nation building, feminism and politics; directing much of her attention to Shakespeare and Renaissance literature. Over the course of three decades, Loomba has researched and published many works focusing directly and broadly on the theme of her interests. She published her first piece of work in 1989 titled Gender, Race, Renaissance Drama, which was subsequently cited into many collections. Loomba’s second work, Colonialism/Postcolonialism (1988), is one of her most notable works. She has continued to produce texts, with her latest work being published in 2016, Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies: Gender, Race and Sexuality.

From 1977-1990, Loomba taught at the University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University in India and also taught at the University of Tulsa (1992-1993) and the University of Illinois (2002). Loomba begun her career at Penn Arts and Sciences in 2003, where she is situated today; holding the Catherine Bryson Professor of English seat at the University. Loomba has researched and taught “…early modern literature, histories of race and colonialism, postcolonial studies, feminist theory, and contemporary Indian literature and culture.” (Penn Arts & Sciences, 2020) throughout her career. She is also apart of the faculty of Comparative Literature, South Asian Studies and Women’s Studies. (Penn Arts and Science, 2020).

Loomba married Suvir Kaul in 1994 and the couple have one child together.

Notable WorksEdit

  • Gender, Race, Renaissance Drama (1989) - In this study, Loomba discusses and analyses the ‘gender-blindness’ in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Loomba’s thesis within this book is “the harshness of the colonial conflict cannot be stressed by ignoring the complexity of the adversaries”[2]; this thesis is explored through a close exploration of the different cultured characters in Shakespeare’s play. Stereotypes, colonialism, feminism and race are all topics which Loomba illuminates. This text “opened up new fields of inquiry by interpreting Renaissance literary texts in relation to issues of race and colonialism”[1]. Loomba claimed that what drove her to publish this text was that “there were elements of the Renaissance period that felt familiar…it can give the impression that what happened in early modern England was some that we…were going through.” [1]. This text was widely received as an educative insight into radical politics in terms of understanding Renaissance writing and contemporary postcolonial literary cultures (Johnson, 2019).
  • Colonialism/Postcolonialism (1998) – This text is recognised at Loomba’s most notable work, with the synopsis of the text centred around a “guide to the historical, theoretical and political dimensions of colonial and postcolonial studies.” [3]. Loomba closely analyses the relationship between indigenous people and their ongoing struggles in terms of the history of colonialism. According to Johnson (2019)[1], “Loomba has definitively shaped debates in postcolonial and South Asian studies in Colonialism/Postcolonialism”. Loomba has stated that “I was trying to navigate this deep scepticism in India…and a valorisation of postcolonial studies – of a deconstructed mode – particularly in the United States”[1]. With the text’s significant notoriety, reviews include that of Peer Hulme, one of her influencers, and Antoinette Burton, a familiar American historian.
  • Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism (2002) - Loomba examines how 17th Century ideas and theologies differ from modern and contemporary doctrines of "race" that became prominent during colonialism, posing the question "Did Shakespeare and his contemporaries think at all in terms of "race?". Through the analysis of Shakespeare's plays and their depictions of religion, ethnicity, culture, class, gender and money, Loomba draws distinctions and comparatives about race, barbarism and what it means to be different.
  • Postcolonial Studies and Beyond. Permanent Black. (2006) - Loomba acted as contributor and editor to this collection of interdisciplinary essays that aimed to "map out a wide-ranging and productive future for postcolonial studies"[4], assessing "the current state of the field, pointing toward its most promising new developments"[4]. The text showcases the scholars of varied intellectual precincts that are most usually perceived as being outside the scope of postcolonialism, allows for new techniques and analysis of the topic, whilst being critiqued by shcoalrs like Loomba, who are strongly associated with the study of postcolonialism, challenging fundamental assumptions.
  • Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies: Gender, Race and Sexuality (2016) – Loomba’s latest text includes an exploration of feminism, more specifically, “the history, present state, and future possibilities of feminist criticism and theory”[5]. This text emphasises the uncertainty of feminist criticism, “it responds to current anxieties that feminist criticism is in a state of decline by attending to debates and differences that have emerged in light of ongoing scholarly discussions of race, affect, sexuality, and transnationalism-work that compels us continually to reassess out definitions of ‘women’ and gender”[6]. This text, although fairly new, responds to relevant discussions and topics in society today. Various universities have reviewed this text and all result in the same perspective, this text is an important addition to feminist discussions in literature and for those interested in feminist agenda. (Callaghan, Howard & Wall, 2015).

InfluenceEdit

Loomba has stated that her influencers from a young age include Edward Said’s Orientalism, which she has claimed “I thought someone hit me on the head…because all those things that I was trying to say as an undergraduate suddenly made sense to me” [1]. Her other influencers include Stuart Hall, Jonathan Dollimore, Cedric Robinson, Natalie Zemon Davies, Peter Hulme and Frantz Fanon[1]. All the above authors, Loomba states, “speak to her multiple interests”[1].

LegacyEdit

Loomba has produced and published many notable works such as Gender, race, Renaissance Drama (1989) and Colonialism/Postcolonialism (1998). Both of these texts are distinguished studies in literature; over time, these specific texts have been altered into numerous editions. Loomba’s Colonialism/Postcolonialism has been translated in five languages and she herself is viewed as a “…leading figure in Anglo-American and Indian literary studies…” [1]. Loomba has opened new perspectives regarding colonialism and postcolonialism literacy, which tends to ignore the fact that both occurred and are recurrent. With her unique perspective, Loomba’s texts have driven many scholarly discussion and ideologies from the 1980’s onwards.

Stated previously, with her commendable work and known political voice, Loomba earned the Catherine Bryson Professor of English seat at Penn Arts and Science University. Loomba has been named a noteworthy Humanities Educator and Researcher by Marquis Who’s Who (Prabook, n.a.).

ReferencesEdit

Ania Loomba. (1989). Gender, Race, Renaissance Drama. https://books.google.com.au/books?id=MzboAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Ania Loomba. (1998). Colonialism/Postcolonialism. https://www.google.com.au/books/edition/Colonialism_postcolonialism/b1PbTVmOy1gC?hl=en&gbpv=1

Ania Loomba. (2002). Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism. https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Shakespeare_Race_and_Colonialism.html?id=oAVgQgAACAAJ&redir_esc=y

Ania Loomba. (2006). Postcolonial Studies and Beyond. Permanent Black. https://www.dukeupress.edu/postcolonial-studies-and-beyond

Ania Loomba. (2016). Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies: Gender, Race and Sexuality. https://www.routledge.com/Rethinking-Feminism-in-Early-Modern-Studies-Gender-Race-and-Sexuality/Loomba-Sanchez/p/book/9781472421760

David Johnson (2019) An Interview with Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul, Wasafiri, 34:1, 52-57, DOI: 10.1080/02690055.2019.1539545

Further ReadingEdit

- Gender, Race, Renaissance Drama (1989)

- Colonialism/Postcolonialism (1998)

- David Johnson (2019) An Interview with Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul, Wasafiri, 34:1, 52-57, DOI: 10.1080/02690055.2019.1539545

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l David Johnson (2019) An Interview with Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul, Wasafiri, 34:1, 52-57, DOI: 10.1080/02690055.2019.1539545
  2. https://books.google.com.au/books?id=MzboAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
  3. https://www.routledge.com/ColonialismPostcolonialism/Loomba/p/book/9781138807181
  4. a b https://www.dukeupress.edu/postcolonial-studies-and-beyond
  5. https://www.routledge.com/Rethinking-Feminism-in-Early-Modern-Studies-Gender-Race-and-Sexuality/Loomba-Sanchez/p/book/9781472421760
  6. https://www.routledge.com/Rethinking-Feminism-in-Early-Modern-Studies-Gender-Race-and-Sexuality/Loomba-Sanchez/p/book/9781472421760