South Asian Studies

Statue of Ganesh

A concentration in South Asian Studies enables students to develop a critical understanding of the diverse cultures, histories, languages, and literatures of South Asia, which includes modern India, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Languages taught regularly include Hindi-Urdu, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Classical Tibetan. Undergraduates may pursue a Concentration with Tracks in South Asian Languages, Literatures, or Cultures and South Asian Studies, as well as a Secondary Field.

Gateway Courses

Spring 2022

GENED 1083: Permanent Impermanence: Why Buddhists Build Monuments
Jinah Kim and Eugene Wang

Everything changes. This is, in its simplest and most fundamental formulation, one of the essential teachings of Buddhism. Buddhist communities throughout history have preached, practiced, and written about the ephemerality and illusoriness of our everyday lives and experiences. Ironically, however, many of these same communities have attempted to express these teachings in the form of monumental structures meant to stand the test of time. Some of the world’s greatest cultural heritage sites are a legacy of this seeming contradiction between the impermanence that is a central presupposition of Buddhist thought and the permanence to which these same monuments seem to aspire. If the world is characterized by emptiness and the Self is illusory, how does one account for the prodigious volume of art and architecture created by Buddhists throughout history? This Gen Ed course takes a multicultural and reflective engagement with the challenges presented by this conundrum through a study of Buddhist sites scattered throughout time and space. Pertinent topics such as cosmology, pilgrimage, materiality, relics, meditation, and world-making will be explored. Through these Buddhist monuments in South and Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Central Asia, China, Korea, and Japan, students will learn about the rich, diverse world of Buddhist practice and experience.

HAA183K: Himalayan Art
Jinah Kim

Understood as a divine abode in Indic mythology and envisioned as the immortal realm of "Shangri-la" by later western interpreters, the Himalayas abound with Hindu and Buddhist holy sites. This course explores the vibrant visual culture of the Himalayan region. Two learning goals are: 1) Understanding the historical development of distinctive artistic forms in paintings and sculptures of Nepal and Tibet during major moments of artistic innovations in the region, including the artistic responses to the current political situation; 2) Locating this knowledge in the context of the history of reception and collecting of Himalayan art in the west.

HIND-URD 123: Bollywood and Beyond: Commercial Cinema, Language and Culture in South Asia
Richard Delacy

This course examines concepts of personhood, community and culture in South Asia as expressed in contemporary film and literature. Works in Hindi-Urdu and in translation will be examined with emphasis on language as an index of cultural difference and of broad social shifts, notably the transformation of audiences from citizens to culture-consumers. Knowledge of Hindi-Urdu is not required. However, there will be a section for students with intermediate proficiency utilizing language materials.

PHIL 192: Buddhist Philosophy
Parimal Patil

In this course, we will discuss topics in Indian Buddhist epistemology,  ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of action, and philosophy of mind. We will pay particular attention to the arguments that Buddhist philosophers used to defend their views and respond to their critics. In addition to understanding these arguments in their historical contexts, we will ask what we can learn from then today and, when relevant, assess how they are being used in contemporary philosophy.