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Dr. Martha Selby, Chair 120 INNER CAMPUS DR STOP G9300 WCH 4.134 78712-1251 • 512-471-5811

Spring 2010

ANS 372 • Living Epics of India

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
31009 W
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
PAR 303

Course Description

The two epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, are an essential part of the living cultural tradition of the Indian subcontinent that has survived for more than two thousand years. There is no India without these two works. Both have been preserved in oral as well as textual tradition. They are brought alive in their performances, whether by storytelling (katha) or annual staging of gigantic theater productions. The course will explore the cultural and religious aspects of the narratives. These epics have been most influential in the formation of the values of the Indian peoples. The Mahabharata, which includes the Bhagavadgita, represents an encyclopedia of the Hindu culture. Since there are many "tellings" of each, we will sample different ones and study them as sources of information on other areas, such as social and political ideas, as well as a source book for mythology. We will also compare similar works in other cultures. These narratives form a living tradition and are normally performed. As such we shall view videos and live performances as well as study the texts.

Grading Policy

Research paper, 12-15 pages (18-20 pages grad): 40%; Short essay, 5-6 pages (8 pages grad): 15% Book and topic reviews: 15%; Paper proposal: 15% Attendance and participation in discussion: 15%


Hilteeitel, Alf. Rethinking the Mahabharata: A Reader's Guide to the Education of the Dharma King. 2001. Leslie, Julia. Authority and Meaning of Indian Religions: Hinduism and the Case of Valmiki. 2003. Lutgendorf, Philip. The Life of a Text: Performing the Ramcaritmanas of Tulsidas. 1991. Menon, Ramesh. The Ramayana. 2003. Narayan, R.K. The Mahabharata. 1996. Richman, Paula. Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia. 1991. Richman, Paula. Questioning Ramayanas. 2001. Sutton, Nicholas. Religious Doctrines in the Mahabharata. 2000.


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