HIS 382N • India before Colonialism
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
This seminar will examine the extent to which colonial knowledge has affected our understanding of India's precolonial past. We will read selections from seminal Western scholarship of the late eighteenth through late nineteenth centuries, in order to identify the sources of many widespread conceptions of "traditional" India. Two related questions to be examined are how to avoid colonial biases in reconstructing precolonial India and the degree to which colonialism created a rupture with precolonial culture and society. The format of the course will combine lectures by the instructor, group discussions of joint readings, and individual presentations. Students will be required to write two short historiographic papers based on class readings, two reviews of books to be assigned individually, and a longer individual paper dealing with some issue raised in the course. This final paper can take a variety of forms: it could, for instance, focus on the historiographic significance of a particular scholar's work, summarize views on how colonialism changed Indian society, look at how an original source from precolonial India sheds light on current debates, or deal with a recent trend like Hindu nationalist history.
two short papers (6 pp. each): 30%; two book reviews (3 pp. each): 20%; research paper (15 pp.): 30%; class participation: 20%
To be announced. Will consist of a selection of older works (early 18th through 19th century) as well as very recent ones.