India Then and Now

Winter 2015 quarter

Taught by

political economy, political science
literature, dance, performance, cultural studies

It is often said that an inquiry into the past helps make the present more understandable. Certainly this is the case with India. The roots of today's India lie deep in its early history. One of the world's oldest civilizations, with a body of literature in Sanskrit dating back to l500 BCE, India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and the home of diverse philosophical thinking that relates to concepts of birth/death, duty, citizenship, state building and governance. Today, India is considered to be the world's largest democracy and a nation undergoing rapid change and modernization. What is the relationship of this long past to today's India? 

India's ancient inheritance continues to shape modern India, while at the same time creating tensions and contradictions as it changes and finds its place in the world of the 21st century. This program will study aspects of both India's past and its present to gain an understanding of its long historical trajectory, as well as its present society and what it is that connects past to present. We will begin with translated excerpts from ancient texts as literature and gain an understanding of the foundations of Indian thought. A focal point of the first several weeks will be a reading of the great epic text, The Ramayana. We will then build on this foundation to investigate the defining cultural, political and economic issues facing contemporary India. In addition to the ancient texts, the program will read contemporary literature, political economy and cultural studies. Writing will include a carefully developed two-part progressive essay that synthesizes and analyzes the program themes.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Indian studies, literature and political economy.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Number

So - Sr (16 credits): 20126

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