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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Heidi R. Pauwels
ASIAN 580
Seattle Campus

Seminar in Hinduism Studies

Introduction to the academic study of Hinduism for graduate students. Examines major problems currently addressed in the academic study of Hinduism and the methods used. Provides a historical perspective on past scholarship. Offered: jointly with JSIS C 580.

Class description

This seminar provides an introduction to the academic study of Hinduism for graduate students with special focus on Hinduism. The goal is to familiarize students with the major problems addressed in the field now, and the methods used, taking care to provide a historical perspective on past scholarship. We start out getting oriented about issues of definition and the insider-outsider debate, explicitly addressing the issue of political implications of scholarship, so as to sensitize students to the possible impact of their research. We discuss methodologically issues according to student interest, ranging from orientalism and post-colonial studies, the problems with structuralist and psycho-analytical interpretations, alternative approaches from subaltern and gender studies, popular culture, sociology and anthropology. Thematically, again depending on student interest, we study recent scholarship on Hindu philosophy, meditation, sacred texts, ritual, social structure, popular culture and arts.

Student learning goals

Knowledge: Understanding of selected major themes in study of Hinduism Understanding of selected major methodologies in history of field

Familiarity with selected major literature in field Grasp of history of study and major contemporary trends Grasp of publication venues and materials for study

Skill: Ability to analyse research contributions Ability to articulate own position (oral and informal writing)

Ability to synthesize several readings Ability to formulate research goals and set research agendas Application of theory in topic of own research interest

Ability to write up as research proposal/introduction to thesis/dissertation (formal writing)

Ability to listen and critique peer reactions and papers (oral)

General method of instruction

Minimal introductory lectures Class discussion and student presentations

Recommended preparation

At least Relig 352 Introduction to Hinduism

Class assignments and grading

Students are expected to come prepared by having done the readings indicated for each meeting. They will prepare a portfolio with weekly reading logs and short reflections outlining their own views on the issues raised and arguing for methodical approaches of their preference. These are not formal write-ups but short notes meant to organize thoughts on the readings. Emphasis is on organization and analysis. For the reading logs, students are provided with a template they will fill out. The reflections are more free-structure. Please do NOT write full sentences, but outlines with keywords, organized numerically. Grade will not be for length, but for clarity and incisiveness of thought.

For the final paper, students are asked to explore one issue applying the theoretical approaches they have studied. In lieu of the classical paper, they will write a research proposal/ prospectus, the gist of which they will also present in class for peer feedback. Each student will also prepare a formal review of one other student’s paper. This serves as a way to help students identify possible approaches and topics for their thesis or dissertation and at the same time introduces students to the academic world of conference presentations, responses and reviews, as well as proposal writing.

Evaluation: 50% Class Work: quality of class discussion participation, weekly “reading logs” and reflections, as collected in portfolio (informal writing) 45% Final paper (formal writing) and presentation 5% Response to peer paper and to peer critique


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Heidi R. Pauwels
Date: 09/24/2013