Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Neusprachliche Südasienstudien


Seminar Course on Indian Literature, Society and Intellectual History from the Ancient to the Pre-modern Period
The Heinrich Zimmer Chair Professor Herraman Tiwari offers a Seminar Course on Indian Literature, Society and Intellectual History from the Ancient to the Pre-modern Period

Datum: ab sofort, jeden Montag
Ort: SAI Raum 401
Zeit: 16-18 Uhr

A course on ancient and medieval Indian literary theories.
Like all literatures of the world ancient Indian literature, too, had its origins in ascribing to and describing the behaviours, emotions and practices of people. Initially this would often take the form of ritual practices to propitiate deities, gods and kings. In other words, panegyrics or words of praise constituted a fundamental basis for human behaviour as well as social norms and, became associated with emotions that needed to be communicated and expressed in the form of literature (kavya/gita/vanmaya). Gradually writers developed a literary form by which to articulate their social and cultural emotions independent of ritual practices: literature for the sake of literature, that is, a simple indulgence in creativity. (Of course, some say writing itself is a ritual and that, too, has been a concern with ancient and medieval Indian poets.) The practice of writing evolved into a variety of forms: poetry (kavya), drama (nataka), epics (mahakavyas, viz. the Ramayana and the Mahabharata), and biographies (real and imagined/fictional). Later, commentators and critics laid down certain rules according to which the various forms of literature could be produced. One of the major concerns for the critics was the purpose(s) of such an exercise, which was closely intertwined also with producing and propagating language and culture.
Needless to say, India, being the abode of a plurality of languages, has produced a wealth of literature with many genres and styles, from the classical (viz. Sanskrit, Tamil, Pali, Prakrit etc.) to the vernaculars (Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, Hindi and so on), not to mention Indian- English. However, in this course, I shall concentrate mainly on the tradition of Sanskrit literature from the ancient to the medieval period as well as on that of Hindi, which is my mother tongue, with an aim to tracing developments of its literary cultural practices in the premodern era. There is a fair amount of secondary material available on this topic: primary texts are in abundance, and can be read through translations. This course, besides being of interest to the Departments of Indology (Classical and Modern) at the SAI, could also contribute to the interrogations of the Cluster, in particular of Research Area B (Public Spheres) as also, perhaps, of Research Area D (Historicities and Heritage).
H. Tiwari
Posted on 19 May 2011
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