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Printing the Goddess: Intersections of Language, Place, Technology, and Agents of Transmission in Nepali Manuscript and Early Print Culture

In: Philological Encounters
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  • 1 Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Department of Asian Studies, Pennsylvania State UniversityState College, PAUSA
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Abstract

In late nineteenth-century Nepal, the advent of print and mass reproduction marked a critical and as yet understudied junction in Nepal’s literary history and attendant manuscript and print cultures. This article employs Nepal’s popular Svasthānīvratakathā to illuminate key shifts and intersections between language of composition, technologies of writing, places of composition or reproduction, and the agents of transmission that are emblematic of local manuscript practices and paradigmatic of the emergent print culture in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Nepal. The practices and actors involved in Svasthānī transmission shifted the text away from the private, domestic sphere to the public, translocal realm on multiple levels. Attending to these shifts as evidenced in one living devotional tradition indexes significant developments and intersections that deepen our knowledge of the changing linguistic, technological, geocultural, and socioeconomic aspects of the literary landscape in Nepal and South Asia more broadly.

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