The Beauty and the Power
of the Classical Indian World
Taught by Professor Pamela Lothspeich
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00-12:15, 115 Murphey Hall
Fulfills GenEds LA and WB, and there are no prerequisites!
Ashoka Pillar from Sarnath, India
This course investigates the classical Indian world through texts in Sanskrit and other classical languages (translated into English). In the classical period (circa 300 BCE -1200 CE), Sanskrit was the language of choice for many Indian elites—kings, priests, scholars, and artists—used to convey knowledge and delight audiences, even as the populace continued to speak and develop literatures in various regional languages. In this course, we’ll explore Sanskrit literary culture, and a number of “rival” classical literary traditions in languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Pali. Readings include primary sources like poetry and drama, and works of aesthetic theory from the classical period. These primary sources will be supplemented with recent scholarly writings on themes such as “vernacularization,” i.e. the historic transition from a predominantly Sanskrit literary culture to one of diverse vernacular literatures. This course will have a seminar format.
*Graduate students will have additional readings and assignments, including a more substantial research paper.