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Mahabharata and Ramayana: The Sanskrit Epics and Indian Visual Culture

ARHA 290
Spring 2012 not offered
Certificates: South Asian Studies

This course focuses on the multifaceted interface between literary text and visual image in traditional South Asia. Our primary focus is on the two Sanskrit epics, MAHABHARATA and RAMAYANA. Both epics will be read in abridged translation to provide familiarity with the overall narrative structure and thematic concerns of the two texts, and a number of excerpts from unabridged translations will be studied in detail to arrive at a fuller understanding of the contents of key episodes and of the style and texture of the two works. The first part of the course addresses a series of questions pertaining to the literary versions of the MAHABHARATA and RAMAYANA: What is epic as a genre, and what are its social roles? Do the MAHABHARATA and RAMAYANA manifest similarities that permit us to identify a distinctive Indian epic type? What are the connections between these epics and the early history of India? Why, and how, did the written texts we have today come to be redacted from bodies of oral tradition? What further transformations did the Sanskrit epics undergo as they were dramatized in the Sanskrit theater, recast in the form of lyric poetry, and translated into various vernacular languages such as Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu? In the second part of the course, we will shift our focus from epic as literature to consider different types of visual embodiments of the epics, including sculptural renditions of epic characters and scenes on the walls of Hindu temples, painted illustrations in the manuscripts of the epics produced at Mughal and Rajput courts, and modern cinematic transformations of the epics in Indian film and television. This course requires no prior knowledge of Indian literature, history, or art and may serve as an effective introduction to the culture and civilization of South Asia.

Essential Capabilities: Intercultural Literacy, Interpretation
Intercultural literacy: Introduces cultural values and literacy practices of traditional south Asia.
Interpretation: Focuses on the interpretation and contextualization of written, oral and visual texts.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: None
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ARHA-MN)(ARHA)(ARST)(GSAS-MN)(GSAS)

Last Updated on MAY-20-2024
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