This course investigates the classical Indian world through texts, many of them originally in Sanskrit. Flourishing for around 3,000 years, beginning circa 1700 BCE, Sanskrit has had a huge impact on South Asian civilization as a religious, literary and political language. During the classical period (circa 300 BCE -1200 CE), Sanskrit was the dominant link language among many of India’s elites—kings, priests, scholars, and artists—who used Sanskrit to convey knowledge and compose works of sublime beauty, even as the populace continued to speak, and ultimately develop literatures in various regional languages. India is also home to several other classical literary traditions, including Tamil in South India. Then too the earliest Buddhist works were composed in Pali, not Sanskrit, and even many “Sanskrit” works, especially plays, are multilingual. Readings for this course reflect a range of languages and literatures, with a special emphasis on Sanskrit poetry and drama, classical aesthetic theories, and the historic transition from a predominantly Sanskrit literary culture to one of diverse vernacular literatures. Primary sources will be supplemented with secondary scholarly literature. This course will have a seminar format. Please note: Graduate students will have additional readings and must submit a longer research paper than undergraduate students.

Gen Eds: LA, BN