Welcome! This is the current weblog and all-purpose website of A. Sean Pue. I am associate professor of Hindi language and South Asian literature and culture at Michigan State University, located in East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
I intend this website to serve as a place to write about my current research and personal interests. Some of my posts may be excessively technical, gnomic, and/or not fit for pubic consumption. However, I am very interested in receiving feedback from specialists and enthusiasts in regards to these ramblings, which likely involve my current work product, so feel free to comment on them.
My main research area is South Asian literature–especially in Urdu, Hindi, and Persian (Farsi)–but I am a comparativist and planning in the future to work in other languages as well, including Punjabi, Bengali (Bangla), and Braj Bhasha. My book, I Too Have Some Dreams: N. M. Rashed and Modernism in Urdu Poetry, was published by University of California Press in August 2014. I have made a resource page for the book here.
My new research area is digital humanities, which is a rather capacious topic. I have been involved in what could be called “humanities computing” related to South Asian literature and language for over a decade. I had been keeping that aspect of my research on the down low, but as it is now becoming an accepted method of humanist inquiry I am doing work more openly in that “field.” I am particularly interested in using computational methodologies to supplement my research in literary history, working with texts on both macro and micro levels. For that reason, I am interested in developing a richly annotated corpus of texts and performances related to South Asian literature, culture, and other fields (and areas).
I have started work on a second book project titled “Publics of Sound: The Politics of Literary Innovation in Modern South Asia.” Through chapters focused on individual writers and movements, the book maps out the politics of sound and musicality in the discourse and practice of poetic modernism in Urdu and Hindi. That book will combine literary historical methodologies with what I call “data-rich analysis” of text and performance. I will use digital tools to seek and identify patterns in a multilingual modernist corpus from roughly 1900 to the 1980s. The project focuses on Hindi and Urdu but also involves other languages, as well. While the literary historical aspects of this project grew out of research for my first book, the computational techniques grew out of a very productive collaboration with computational biologists in using bioinformatic algorithms to detect the meter of Urdu poetry. I have extended our initial work to include free verse in Hindi and Urdu. I hope to also involve computational linguistics and natural language processing in my work, as well as computer and data science, in order to adapt the methodologies of those disciplines for my literary research.
I have also completed a few projects on second-language acquisition involving digital technologies. I hope to update and add those projects to this webpage in the near future. I regularly teach Hindi and sometimes Urdu, and I am excited about the possibilities of language learning and teaching online. I have received minimal training in SLA, all of it postdoctoral, but I do consider it a tertiary field of my research, as well as a significant component of my teaching and service.
At MSU, I teach in an undergraduate program in Global Studies in Arts and Humanities for which I have developed three classes. My first lower-level course, “Encountering Difference: East-West, North-South,” focuses on the historical development of ideas of civilization over the longue durée, through readings of Hafiz, Goethe, Iqbal, Conrad, Tyeb Salih, and Shahid Ali. I encourage students to look at ideas of civilization in contemporary discourse and cultural production. I developed a second lower-level course on “Global Espionage: Identity, Intelligence, Power” that highlights key concepts in global studies and theory through readings of spy fiction and film that reflect the geopolitics of the era of high colonialism, the Cold War, and the contemporary post-9/11 world. Much of that class focused on the area of the “Great Game,” including India, but with excursions into the war in Vietnam and Cyberspace. Most recently I taught an upper-level undergraduate course on migration entitled “Partition, Displacement, and Cultural Memory.” It addresses the displacements caused by the partition of states through the twentieth century, focusing particularly on Ireland/Northern Ireland, India/Pakistan, and Israel/Palestine. I have also taught a course on “Gandhi's India in History, Literature, and Film” as part of MSU's integrative studies program. There was no course on Gandhi at MSU, and so I believed it was important for students to be able to study this transformational historical figure.
I have also been drafted into the faculty of a new undergraduate Digital Humanities specialization (soon to be minor), teaching its first ever “Digital Humanities Seminar.” That course currently focuses on the question of how to deal with the big data of the digital age, and how can we use digital tools and technologies to empower our analysis, criticism, and creativity. It is a hands-on class that mixes theory and practice, culminating in a final project for the students.
At MSU, I also coordinate the Hindi language program and have usually taught at the first- or second-year level. This year I am teaching first-year Hindi (LL151.2, LL152.2) and will be partially “flipping” the course so one hour of classtime will be online. In addition to online exercises, I am hoping to move all of my own English speaking to that hour and spend the other three hours in the “target language.” I didn’t think I would be teaching that class when I agreed to have it flipped, but it should be interesting. If the videos are effective and not too embarassing, I will make them available to the public.
At MSU, most of my service has been oriented towards my college, Arts and Letters, mostly in regards to the programs mentioned above, as well to my department—Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages. I also work extensively with the Asian Studies Center and the Muslim Studies Program, both part of International Studies and Programs at MSU.
In 2009, I brought MSU into the American Institute of Pakistan Studies and have since served as MSU's representative on its Board of Trustees. I was recently elected to the Executive Committee of AIPS. I am very happy to be assisting with the workings of the Institute, which primarily involve supporting scholarly research and teaching about Pakistan as well as facilitating scholarly exchanges between Pakistani and U.S. academic institutions.
I currently serve on the editorial board of two journals, the Urdu/English journal Bunyaad, published by the Gurmani Centre of the Lahore University of Management Science, and Sagar: A South Asia Research Journal, published by the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. Both are fabulous peer-reviewed journals, and I am very happy to have the opportunity to support their activities.
In summer 2014, I was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor at Michigan State University. I moved to East Lansing and started working at MSU in 2008.
Immediately before that, I was a research associate for two years based at the University of Chicago at the (now unfortunately defunct) South Asian Language Resource Center, where I coordinated South Asian language materials development and teacher training on a national level. At the U of C., I also had an opportunity to teach advanced literature classes in Urdu and Hindi. I love Chicago and have very happy memories from that stage of my life, most especially the birth of my daughter.
Before Chicago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend graduate school at Columbia University in the city of New York. I began in the M.A./Ph.D. program in what was then called Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, and is now the even more fabulous Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS). I then entered the Comparative Literature and Society program, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Middle East and Asian Languages and Culture and Comparative Literature and Society, which is quite a mouthful indeed. Frances Pritchett was my Ph.D. supervisor. In the course of my Ph.D. research, I lived in India, mostly in Delhi, for one year on a Fulbright fellowship. I also spent most of a summer in Chandigarh studying Punjabi.
The year before starting graduate school, I lived in Lahore, as a student of the Berkeley Urdu Language Program in Pakistan (BULPIP), which was great. I also had an opportunity then to do a little traveling in northern Pakistan, which was amazing.
Before that, I was an undergraduate in the city of Berkeley at the University of California, where I majored in South and Southeast Asian Studies and in Religious Studies. I blame the late Aditya Behl, my undergraduate advisor and later also a member of Ph.D. committee, for luring me to South Asian literature and to academia.
I was born and raised in the city of San Diego, California.
My other mostly indoor hobbies include reading, music, and cooking.
Outside, I enjoy hiking, biking, bird watching, skiing, being by or in water (both fresh and salt), and scuba diving.