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Anthony Di Fiore, Chair SAC 4.102, Mailcode C3200 78712 • 512-471-4206

Fall 2003

ANT 324L • Gender/Sex/Family in Indian Religions/Cultures-w

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
26905 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
GAR 200

Course Description

This course will provide the student with a comprehensive overview of gender issues as they are represented in the great textual traditions of India (these categories include Vedic materials, medical literature, treatises on law and sexual behavior, and texts that outline the great debates over questions of gender identity and salvation preserved for us in certain Jaina and Buddhist materials). To make these classical texts more relevant, readings in recent anthropological studies will also be included to enable the student to trace recurring themes, images, and symbols. The student will thereby gain a sense of continuity of traditions and attitudes as well as generative innovations and contemporary variants within them.

We will begin by looking at various Vedic narratives and descriptions of ritual, paying particular attention to sexual symbolism in Vedic poetry, as well as gender roles and sexuality in Vedic ritual. We will then explore different legal and moral aspects of gender roles, sexuality, and identity in classical India, followed by an examination of the ways in which gender identity is medicalized in early Sanskrit texts from the Ayurvedic traditions of North India. We will read a psychoanalytic study of Indian sexuality, and will then move to the southern part of the subcontinent, where we will look at an ethnographic study of pleasure and desire within the bounds of a village family in contemporary Tamilnadu. We will then explore some of the more sexually "marginalized" communities in India by examining current writing on gay and Lesbian issues, and by critically examining Serena Nanda's popular book on hijras ("eunuchs"). During the last few weeks of the course, we will consider texts that probe the intriguing and complex relationship between sexuality and spiritual salvation.


Nanda, Serena. Neither Man nor Woman: The Hijras of India Jamison, Stephanie W. Sacrificed Wife/Sacrificer's Wife: Women, Ritual, and Hospitality in Ancient India Kakar, Sudhir. Intimate Relations: Exploring Indian Sexuality Vatsyayana. Kamasutra (Doniger translation) Trawick, Margaret. Notes on Love in a Tamil Family Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism Selvadurai, Shyam. Funny Boy. Course packet of additional readings


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