ANS 384 • Mughal India in History and Memory
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
This seminar focuses on South Asia during the era of the Mughal empire, ca. 1500-1800. Much of the Indian subcontinent came under the control of the Mughal dynasty, ushering in a period of peace and prosperity during which long-lasting economic and cultural linkages were formed between the various regions of the subcontinent. Aside from its cultural splendor, political might, and booming economy, Mughal India is also important for the many ways in which it shaped South Asia's development in subsequent centuries. We will therefore look not only at Mughal India at the height of imperial power between approximately 1550 to 1750, but also at the continuing legacies and symbolic relevance of the Mughal dynasty in British India and in India today. The course will be divided into three parts. In the first part, students will get a general understanding of how Mughal India has been regarded both in popular memory and in academic historiography. After beginning with an analysis of the recent Bollywood film Jodha Akbar and a brief overview of changes in scholarly views and the main scholarly debates relating to the period. Original sources from the era will be the focus of the second section of the course, especially Persian chronicles, foreign travelers' accounts, and courtly painting. In the last few weeks of the semester, students will embark on an individual research paper on a topic of their choice, in consultation with the instructor. This research paper should relate to some aspect of the period but need not be focused on the Mughal empire or court. Alternatively, students could investigate some aspect of modern popular culture (films, historical fiction, etc.) rather than the cultural productions of the Mughal age or recent scholarship.
Students are expected to participate in discussion during every class, without exception; class participation will thus constitute a significant component of the final grade. The writing assignments will include an analytical paper (6-8 pp.) on the state of the field of Mughal studies, due after the first section of the course is concluded. Students will turn in two review essays (4 pp. each) during the second half of the semester, on different types of original sources (specific albums of paintings, a particular travel account, a court memoir, etc.). The views embodied in these reviews essays will also be presented orally in class. Each student will also be expected to present the main findings of their research project to the class and in written form (8-12 pp). A number of written responses to the weekly readings may also be required. Various aspects of student performance will be weighted as listed below in determining the final grade for the course: Participation & Presentations = 30% State of the field essay (6-8 pages) = 20% Reviews of original sources (4 pp. each x 2) = 20% Research paper (8-12 pp,) = 30%
1) Catherine B. Asher & Cynthia Talbot, India Before Europe 2) Andre Wink, Akbar (Makers of the Muslim World series) 3) Michael Fisher, Visions of Mughal India: An Anthology of European Travel Writing 4) Wheeler M. Thackston trans., Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor 5) William Dalrymple, The Last Mughal 6) multiple other readings to be provided either as a coursepack or on Blackboard