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An introductory survey of the Hindu religious tradition of South Asia from 1500 B.C.E. down to the present day. Emphasis will be given to the historical development of elite, Sanskritic Hinduism and its constant interaction with popular and local traditions.
An introductory survey of the Buddhism of South Asia from its beginnings in the 6th century B.C.E. to its eventual demise in the 12th century C.E. Emphasis will be given to the major beliefs, practices, and institutions characteristic of Indian Buddhism, the development of its different varieties (Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana), and its impact upon South Asian civilization at large.
An introductory survey of Buddhism in Tibet from its inception in the 8th century until the present day. Emphasis will be given to the central doctrines, practices, and institutions characteristic of Tibetan Buddhism, its development of various popular and elite religious ideals (householder, nun, monk, scholar, solitary hermit, crazy yogi, and female dakini), and its evolving identity in the West. Open to all.
This introductory course surveys religion in Southeast Asian contexts. We begin by analyzing the terms "Religion" and "Southeast Asia" as products of global politics. Then, we examine contemporary case studies from seven Southeast Asian countries to explore how religions shape local communities and life experiences. Our course materials lead us to investigate how Spirit Religions, Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, and Islam intersect and inform understandings of embodiment, health, power, nature, and death. Open to all.
This intermediate-level course explores how Buddhist concepts of embodiment affect daily life and society in Southeast Asian contexts. We will also consider how cultural understandings of gender and sexuality influence local religious practices in the Buddhist-majority countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Our materials will lead us to analyze how religion, sexuality, and gender intersect with one another, as well as how these intersections impact broader understandings of authority, wisdom, beauty, death, and loyalty.
The ancient Indian epic known as the Ramayana is a stirring, martial tale of gods, demons, and monkeys. Beginning with the classical Sanskrit version composed as early as 200 B.C.E., India has produced hundreds of different versions of the Ramayana, in different languages and media, with different agendas and for different audiences. We will examine this epic tradition in all of its complexity, making ample use of different forms of media.
Buddhists see philosophy not just as a study of reality or the meaning of life, but as a useful step in overcoming all forms of suffering and realizing the existential happiness of a buddha. This course will provide an introductory survey of the four main Indian Buddhist philosophical schools; highlight the differences in their phenomenology, onto-epistemology, and ethics; and explore their views on the nature of consciousness, identity, perception, wisdom, and happiness. It will also touch upon Buddhist dialectical reasoning and analytical meditations aimed at developing insight into the nature of mind and its lifeworld.
This experimental interdisciplinary course explores traditional North Indian (Hindustani) music and dance as both an artistic practice and a cultural system. Course work combines regular group lessons on the tabla—the principal percussion instrument in the performance of Hindustani raga—with weekly reading, listening, and viewing assignments focusing on Indian music theory, history, and aesthetics. Visiting artists will demonstrate the central dance, instrumental, and vocal forms of Hindustani performing arts. No prior musical experience required.
This course surveys the art and culture of Tibet from the time of the introduction of Buddhism in the seventh century to the modern period. Traditionally understood as the divine abode of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all buddha in Buddhist cosmology, Tibet was also fantasized as the immortal realm of "Shangri-la" by western interpreters. In this course, we will begin by examining the imagination and representation of Tibet and its culture in modern western discourses, and then shift the focus to the development of artistic forms of Tibet in the context of Tibet's history and religious movements, from ancient times to the present.
This course examines the environmental history of Africa and Asia, focusing on the period of European colonialism and its aftermath. Topics include deforestation and desertification under colonial rule; imperialism and conservation; the consequences of environmental change for rural Africans and Asians; irrigation, big dams and transformations in water landscapes; the development of national parks and their impact on wildlife and humans; the environmentalism of the poor; urbanization and pollution; and global climate change in Africa and Asia. Open to all classes.
This course examines the history of modern South Asia (focusing on the nations of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) from the eighteenth century to the present. Key themes include: the character of British colonialism and its impact on Indian society; cultural change and the "invention" of new religious and caste identities; the Indian middle class; the emergence of the Indian national movement under Mahatma Gandhi; Partition in 1947 and Partition violence; and post-independence South Asian politics and economy.
This course examines the conflict which Americans call "The Vietnam War" as a major event in the 20th century histories of both the United States and Vietnam. In addition to exploring the key decisions made by U.S. and Vietnamese leaders, students will also learn about the experiences of ordinary soldiers and civilians. This course incorporates multiple American and Vietnamese sources and perspectives, and also investigates multiple explanations of the war's origins and outcome. Open to all classes.
This course explores the history of modern India through the figure of Mahatma Gandhi. After exploring early developments in Gandhi's life and his philosophy of non-violence, we will examine the role of Gandhi and of his image in major political developments in India. We will also take up many key issues relating to Gandhian thought, including Hindu-Muslim relations, caste, gender and sexuality, and social equality. Finally, we will discuss Gandhi's legacy in India and globally.
This course surveys historical developments in what are now the modern nation states of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Students will explore South Asian society, culture, and religion in the broader context of state-formation and empire-building. We will examine the makings of the Mughal Empire, one of the most influential states in the subcontinent's history, its predecessors, successors, and rivals, as well as its complex and contested legacy. The Taj Mahal stands as a powerful example of both Mughal imperial achievement and continuing controversy about early modern pasts. Moreover, this course will emphasize the makings of Islam in India, Persianate political and literary culture, as well as early modern commerce and politics.
This course introduces students to the peoples and cultures of Tibet and the greater Himalayan region (Nepal, northern India, Bhutan). We examine the cultural, ecological, political, religious, and economic interfaces that define life on the northern and southern slopes of Earth's greatest mountain range. In addition to learning about Himalayan and Tibetan lifeways, we will also learn about how these mountainous parts of Asia have figured into occidental imaginings, from the earliest adventurers to contemporary travelers.
This interdisciplinary course is the second required component of the foreign study program "Developing Vietnam", exploring the contemporary history, society and culture of Vietnam. This course, held during Dartmouth's December "winterim" period, consists of three weeks of intensive and immersive learning in Ho Chi Minh City. Students live and study at a partner university in Vietnam and complete their group research project (begun during the fall term in ASCL 70.22) on some aspect of development in contemporary Vietnam.
ASCL 59.04 counts towards the IITD (Interdisciplinary, Interregional, Transnational & Diasporal Courses) requirements for the major or minor. ASCL 50.94 is paired with a course taught in the fall term, ASCL 70.22, as a required part of the "DevelopingVietnam" foreign study program.
This interdisciplinary course explores the history, society, and culture of Vietnam, with particular attention to the theme of development in Vietnam since the 1980s. It is part of a teaching and learning partnership between Dartmouth and Fulbright University Vietnam, a Vietnamese liberal arts university in Ho Chi Minh City. Throughout the term, Dartmouth and Fulbright students will interact and co-learn with each other via online discussions, collaborative assignments, and a small group research project.
ASCL 70.22 counts towards the IITD (Interdisciplinary, Interregional, Transnational & Diasporal Courses) requirements for the major or minor. ASCL 70.22 is paired with a course taught in winterim, ASCL 59.04, as a required part of the "Developing Vietnam" foreign study program.
This course investigates systems of healing practiced in, and derived from, Asia. We will focus primarily on three Asian medical systems: Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and Tibetan medicine. We will strive to understand how these medical systems are based on coherent logics that are not only biologically but also culturally determined. We will also analyze the deployment of these medical systems in non-Asian contexts and examine the relationship between Asian systems and "western" biomedicine.