Women's Writing Before Woolf: A Social Reference/Ania Loomba 2

BiographyEdit

Ania Loomba, born august 7th 1955, studied at both the university of Delhi and the University of Sussex where she received her PhD. Her parents where both members of the communist party, her father a trade unionist and her mother a schoolteacher. Much of her life has been influenced by activism, Marxist theory, feminist theory and the civil rights movement within India and Britain especially. She also found the Miners strike in Britain in the 70s as she was a student in Sussex at the time (Johnson[1]). She is currently employed at the university of Pennsylvania as the Catherine Bryson Professor of English. She is the 2024 winner of The Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture, a lecture awarded to members of the American Council of learned Societies to honour scholarly achievement within their career[2]. Like the scholar the award is named for much of Loomba’s work is focused within medieval or early modern history. Loomba’s main focuses are race, colonialism and postcolonialism and feminist theory as well as Indian literature and south Asian studies. “The connections lie in my trying to work out the long histories of race and colonialism. Structures that we’ve inhabited, when did they come into being?”. “Trying to connect that history with feminism has been my way of staying alive in the Trump and Modi moment” (Johnson)[1]. She draws connections between the past and present within her work looking at the often overlooked similarities between them.

CareerEdit

She has been publishing since the 1980s. Some of her works include: Race in Early Modern England, Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies: Gender, Race, and Sexuality, Early Modern or Early Colonial? And the third edition of Colonialism/ Postcolonialism which is a guide on terminology used with colonial and postcolonial studies includes and its history. In its introduction asks if the field is dying despite how “entrenched” it has become within western academic thought, giving way to globalisation studies? She asks if “Are these asymmetric phenomena or do they mark something new … Is postcolonial studies redundant today or more important than ever?”[3]. Even drawing attention to challenges the field has faced from western governments including the US government trying to defund the field as they viewed it as Anti-American. She has also been critical of the idea that postcolonial studies could not talk about other topics like economics. Viewing the idea as very westernised pointing out that many scholars from postcolonial or currently colonialised countries do talk about economic effects.

When it comes to early modern scholarship Loomba and Jonathan Burton’s Race in Early Modern England provides a close examination of race within England providing readers with a better understanding of race and ethnicity at the time providing multiple sources for scholars to use including laws. Her 2002 article, “Break her will, and bruise no bone sir”: Colonial and Sexual Mastery in Fletcher’s The Island Princess. This discusses colonial ideas on women and religion used within the tragicomedy. The Island Princess was a play preformed in 1621 based on the Spanish colonialisation of the Maluccas Islands and the book by Le Seigneur de Bellan. She “examine[s] how the play offers a fantasy of colonial and sexual possession by using the figure of an Eastern princess who converts to Christianity”[4]. While some parts do better towards women then other texts at the time “the desire of the non-European for Europeans becomes a way of suggesting the supposed reciprocity, mutuality, and equality of international and colonial trade, and, in many instances, a way of disguising its violence and asymmetry.”[4] Therefore, becoming a tool of colonial oppression reframing and downplaying the violence faced by many women at the hands of their colonisers as well as the true level of agency they have in romantic or sexual relationships.

Her work shows the importance of intersectionality within feminism, showing not just the importance in current feminist debates but in better understanding the past. “Open[ing] up the possibility for critics of early modern studies to acknowledge the overlaps, slips, dissonances, and links between multiple categories and theories of analysis” (Lindor[5]). One review of Post-Colonial Shakespeares states “As Loomba and Orkin Succinctly note, there are now quite a number of cultural contexts in which the study of Shakespeare (including it radical varieties) may already seem superfluous or even insulting imposition, amidst ‘shape debates on the continued usefulness of Western icons like Shakespeare or indeed of Western theories’” (Shaughnessy)[6].

Further ReadingEdit

To learn more about Ania Loomba I suggest reading David Johnson’s An Interview with Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul providing further insight into postcolonial studies in India and Loomba’s life and influences. I also suggest Post-colonial Shakespeares to better demonstrate race studies and early modern literature.


ReferencesEdit

Professor Ania Loomba awarded the 2024 Charles Homer Haskins Prize from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). University of Pennsylvania. Department of English. October 5 2022. https://www.english.upenn.edu/news/2022/10/05/professor-ania-loomba-awarded-2024-charles-homer-haskins-prize-american-council[2]

Johnson, David. An Interview with Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul. Wasafiri, vol. 34, no. 1, 2019, pp. 52-57.[1]

Loomba, Ania, and Proquest EBook Central. colonialism/postcolonialism. Routledge, London, 2015.[3]

Lindor, Willnide E. "Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies: Gender, Race, and Sexuality Ed. by Ania Loomba and Melissa E. Sanchez (Review)." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 20, no. 3, 2020, pp. 121-124.[5]

Loomba, Ania. ""Break Her Will, and Bruise no Bone Sir": Colonial and Sexual Mastery in Fletcher's the Island Princess." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, 2002, pp. 68-108.[4]

Shaughnessy, Robert. "Post-Colonial Shakespeares by Ania Loomba, Martin Orkin (Review)." The Modern Language Review, vol. 96, no. 3, 2001, pp. 802-803.[6]

  1. a b c Johnson, David. An Interview with Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul. Wasafiri, vol. 34, no. 1, 2019, pp. 52-57.
  2. a b Professor Ania Loomba awarded the 2024 Charles Homer Haskins Prize from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). University of Pennsylvania. Department of English. October 5 2022. https://www.english.upenn.edu/news/2022/10/05/professor-ania-loomba-awarded-2024-charles-homer-haskins-prize-american-council
  3. a b Loomba, Ania, and Proquest EBook Central. colonialism/postcolonialism. Routledge, London, 2015.
  4. a b c Loomba, Ania. ""Break Her Will, and Bruise no Bone Sir": Colonial and Sexual Mastery in Fletcher's the Island Princess." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, 2002, pp. 68-108
  5. a b Lindor, Willnide E. "Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies: Gender, Race, and Sexuality Ed. by Ania Loomba and Melissa E. Sanchez (Review)." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 20, no. 3, 2020, pp. 121-124.
  6. a b Shaughnessy, Robert. "Post-Colonial Shakespeares by Ania Loomba, Martin Orkin (Review)." The Modern Language Review, vol. 96, no. 3, 2001, pp. 802-803.