The papers in this panel explore the themes of copying, repetition and reproduction in the context of early-modern South Asian manuscripts in order to understand how such books were valued, used and disseminated.
The papers in this panel explore the themes of copying, repetition and reproduction in the context of early-modern South Asian manuscripts in order to understand how such books were valued, used and disseminated. These include manuscripts in both pothi and codex format—with and without illustrations—ranging from literature and religious treatises to dictionaries and indexes. Common to them is the fact that multiple versions and editions of each were made through copying by hand. The result of such non-mechanical reproduction is that copies might not be "perfect" with variations introduced by artists and scribes, either deliberately or inadvertently. The purpose of this panel is to explore the significance of such variations. Rather than thinking of them as merely discrepancies or mistakes, we regard them as junctures where the authors' or artists' engagement with contemporary sectarian concerns, literary trends, artistic strategies and popular culture may be manifest. Papers might compare different editions or versions in order to investigate issues such as: What is the core of a text? Which viewpoint is preferred at a particular historical moment? How are narratives transformed as they are copied? What is the impact of scribal error when such an error becomes sanctified by usage? We have invited proposals from scholars who work in a variety of disciplines including Art History, Literature, and Religious Studies, especially welcoming proposals that draw upon methodologies from Digital Humanities.