Research Interests: Vernacular Archives and Manuscripts, Medieval Indian Literature, Literary Historiography , Women’s history
Charu Singh is a literary critic (आलोचक). Her expertise is Literary Historiography and Indian literature, especially Hindi Sahitya ( हिन्दी साहित्य). Her research focuses on literary historiography, gender, the history of 'Hindutva' Politics in the Literary Sphere, and the politicisation of the Hindi public Sphere. Her main areas of academic investigation are Hindi, Sanskrit, and north Indian vernacular (lokbhasha) archives. During her doctoral research, she did extensive archival work on Nineteenth Century archives, which changed her perspective towards Literary Historiography. (The reason she expects her students to be prepared for some firsthand archival experience themselves)
Professor Singh has an interdisciplinary background by having training in education and social sciences as an undergraduate and then moving towards literature by completing her Master's in Hindi Literature from the Centre of Indian Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She did her Ph.D. at the University of Delhi, exploring the History of Women's Education in North India. Presently, she's trying to understand the role of Sanskrit and Urdu publications in the emergence of the early Hindi Public sphere. Her other project is the history of gender in Nineteenth-century north India. She's also working on a Historical biography of Srimati Hardevi, a woman reformer and educationist of Colonial Punjab.
She is currently teaching two courses on Hindi literature and is all set to introduce a few courses on various Ramayanas, Literary History, or Historiography.
Charu Singh's doctoral thesis, submitted at the University of Delhi, addresses the conceptual questions concerning the idea of 'Stree Shiksha' (स्त्री शिक्षा), a famous phrase in the Nineteenth Century Hindi public sphere. It attempts to conceptualise the difference between 'Shiksha' and 'Stree Shiksha' in the historical context of the late Nineteenth Century. Was this movement of 'Stree Shiksha' (Women's Education) limiting women's education opportunities? Did it have any meaning other than 'domestic education'? What were the socio-historical contexts in which the demand for a different kind of 'Stri Shiksha' became a literary and public concern in the Hindi sphere? How was it different from the Victorian idea of women's education focused on producing 'Angles of the House?' How was it synchronised with the ideals of freedom and equality for which Indian men were ready to fight with the Empire? What role the idea of 'Hindutva' ( historically, a subsequent terminology) or 'Sanantan Dharma' had to play in it, considering the repetitive uses of the terms like 'Sati,' 'Satitva,' and 'Pativrat' ( सती, सतीत्व और पातिव्रत) in the context of 'Stree Shiksha?'
She's also eager to decode the emergence and strengthening of 'Hindutva' Politics in the Hindi Sphere, and this brings her back to the Nineteenth century Hindi authors, editors, Publication Houses, and other current publications like "Gita Press.' She has done exhaustive research concerning Gita Press's mission towards maintaining Gender hierarchy.
Another focus of Professor Singh's research has been the search for women authors who were active throughout this historical period in public and literary spaces but have yet to document in history. She believes the mere knowledge of the presence and participation of these women authors and activists in the Nineteenth Century's public arena can present new insights into the interpretation of the literary history of the period altogether.
Professor Singh is working on a biographical history of a famous but forgotten public figure of the late Nineteenth Century, Srimati Hardevi, a social reformer, educator, and editor of the prestigious Hindi journal 'Bharat Bhagini( भारत भगिनी)' In the historiography of Hindi literature, until now, there has been no mention of any women writers of the Nineteenth Century. Understanding the journey of a 16-year-old adolescent widow entering the world of Hindi in 1882 through a book like 'Simantani Upadesh'( सीमन्तनी उपदेश) to become a noted social reformer, Shrimati Hardevi appeals to Charu as a student of history and literature. She is also revising her doctoral thesis, "The Concept of "Stri Shiksha" in the Nineteenth Century Hindi Public Sphere (1850-1900)" for publication.
LIT120 Introduction to Hindi Literature
LIT220 Premchand and the making of Hindi Imagination