Tyler Williams

Associate Scholar

20142015 Forum on Color

Tyler Williams

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Humanities and Humanistic Sciences, 2014-2016
South Asia Studies

Tyler completed his BA in South Asian Studies from UC Berkeley, an MA and MPhil in Hindi Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and a PhD in Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies from Columbia University.  He works on Hindi-Urdu literature, particularly on pre-colonial literature in Brajbhasha, Marwari and Avadhi (but also on aspects of colonial and post-colonial literature in Hindi).  He is interested in book history, material texts, digital humanities, literary history, Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism.  Tyler teaches courses in the Department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing a research project titled "Account Books and Holy Books: Merchant Religious and Literary Culture in Early Modern India.”  He will be joining the faculty of the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in Fall 2015.

Account Books and Holy Books: Merchant Religious and Literary Culture in Early Modern India

My research investigates the relation between occupational and religious identity in early modern North India by mapping the literary and devotional world of Hindu and Jain merchant communities in sixteenth- through eighteenth-century Rajasthan. I use data from manuscripts, architectural remains, and other sources, along with qualitative and quantitative techniques to explain how the people of this time and place understood and represented who they were. This project contributes to the discussion on what constitutes modernity and whether global early modernity is a viable category (or multiple modernities), while also proposing an alternative approach to writing the literary and religious history of North India.