This volume intends to cast hitherto unfocused light on the emergent literary sensibilities shown by four Muslim women in pre-modern India. Gulbadan, Jahanara and Zeb-un-Nessa belonged to the Mughal zenana, which was an enigmatic liminal space of qualified autonomy and complex equations of gender politics. Conversely, Habba Khatoon, famously known as ‘the Nightingale of Kashmir’, was a common woman who married into royalty, but her happiness was short-lived with her husband being treacherously exiled by Emperor Akbar. While the subjective selves of these women never much surfaced under extant rigid conventions, their indomitable understanding of ‘home-world’ antinomies determinedly emerged from their works. This monograph explores the literary-political imagination of these women that was constructed through statist interactions of their royal fathers, brothers or husbands, and how such knowledge percolated through the relatively cloistered communal life of the zenana.
Sabiha Huq is a Professor of English at Khulna University, Bangladesh. After her graduation and postgraduation from the Department of English, University of Dhaka, she completed PhD in theatre translation from the University of Oslo, Norway. She has proven interests in postcolonial literature and women’s writings, film and media studies, cultural studies, education and digital and environmental humanities. The Mughal Aviary: Women’s Writings in Pre-modern India is her first monograph, which was earlier published by Vernon Press, USA. She is currently working on Ibsen in the Decolonised South Asian Theatre (under contract with Routledge UK). Apart from writing short stories, she edits and publishes Dead Metaphor, a literary magazine.