Representations of Women and Divinity in Medieval Tamil Literature
In this article, the author proposes a feminist reading of medieval South Asian literature that aims to dismantle a long held split-image view of Hindu “femininity.” With this reading, Comeau also presents stylized poetry as a viable historical source for the study of woman-hood in South Asia. She analyzes excerpts from the ninth-century devotional text, Tirukkōvaiyār, to address one intersection of religiosity and portrayals of women in the Tamil literary corpus. In addi-tion to decentering the central character of the heroine, the author develops an inclusive feminist reading strategy that takes account of supporting female characters, such as servants, messengers, and kin. The essay aims to disband the accepted, though disturbing and monolithic category of “the good Tamil woman.” In its place, Comeau offers an opportunity to acknowledge and promote the relative diversity of roles played by female characters in fictional verses.
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