Position title: Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2018-2019)
Niche Formations: Rethinking Literary Opportunity in Modern Literatures of Southeast and South Asia
My project explores the use and utility of a term ubiquitous yet undertheorized across much contemporary literary criticism, particularly concerning diasporic and postcolonial authors – “niche.” It argues that this term offers a conceptual basis for a mode of literary production wherein such authors turn to their advantage the structural constraints specific to their geocultural location. Through combining analyses of texts from or about the Malay world and the Indian subcontinent with theorizations of ‘niche’ in disciplines ranging from ecology, economics, and international relations, this project shows that the formal choices of diasporic and postcolonial authors can be thought of as more than just acts of resistance or adaptation to the cultural legacies of European empire in Asia.
Jacqulyn Teoh is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at UW-Madison. Her current research examines twentieth and twenty-first century Southeast and South Asian literary production with insights drawn from postcolonial, diasporic, and world literary studies. Her work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council and UW-Madison’s Graduate School.