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Title: Modern Tibetan literature and the inescapable nation
Author: Jabb, Lama
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Existing scholarship on modern Tibetan writing takes the 1980s as its point of “birth” and presents this period as marking a “rupture” with traditional forms of literature. This study seeks to go beyond such an interpretation by foregrounding the persistence of Tibet’s artistic past and oral traditions in the literary creativity of the present. An appreciation of genres, styles, concepts and techniques derived from Tibet’s rich and diverse oral art forms and textual traditions exposes the inadequacy of a simple “rupture” perspective. Whilst acknowledging the novel features of modern Tibetan literary creations this work draws attention to hitherto neglected aspects of continuities within the new. It reveals the innovative presence of Tibetan kāvya poetics, the mgur genre, biography, the Gesar epic and other types of oral compositions within modern Tibetan poetry and fiction. It also brings to prominence the complex and fertile interplay between orality and the Tibetan literary text. All these aspects are demonstrated by bringing the reader closer to Tibetan literature through the provision of original English translations of various textual and oral sources. Like any other national literature modern Tibetan literary production is also informed by socio-political and historical forces. An examination of unexplored topics ranging from popular music, Tibet’s critical tradition and cultural trauma to radical and erotic poetries shows a variety of issues that fire the imagination of the modern Tibetan writer. Of all these concerns the most overriding is the Tibetan nation, which pervades both fictional and poetic writing. In its investigation into modern Tibetan literature this thesis finds that Tibet as a nation - constituted of history, culture, language, religion, territory, shared myths and rituals, collective memories and a common sense of belonging to an occupied land - is inescapable. Embracing a multidisciplinary approach drawing on theoretical insights in literary theory and criticism, political studies, sociology and anthropology, this research demonstrates that, alongside past literary and oral traditions, the Tibetan nation proves to be an inevitable attribute of modern Tibetan literature.
Supervisor: Ramble, Charles Sponsor: Dalai Lama Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature (non-English) ; Asia ; Tibetan ; modern Tibetan literature ; national identity ; cultural trauma ; the literary and the oral ; continuity and creativity