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Cultural Dynamics of South and South East Asia: Ramayana (1516)


Admission requirements

Successful completion of at least 45 EC of the first year (propaedeutics) of the bachelor’s programme in South and Southeast Asian Studies including Premodern History of SSEA and Histories of Modern SSEA and Classical Cultures of SSEA: Seminar I and Nation, Community, Self. Students interested in this course and not fullfilling the requirements should contact Prof.dr.M.J. Klokke before the start of the course.


This year’s course on Cultural Dynamics in South and Southeast Asia focuses on the Ramayana, one of the great Indian epics, that became known all over India and spread to other parts of South and Southeast Asia. The most well-known version is the Sanskrit Ramayana of Valmiki, consisting of 24,000 verses in seven books, which is thought to date from around the fifth to third century BC. Throughout the ages, the Ramayana tradition expanded to include myriad new versions in South and Southeast Asian vernacular languages, in local performances, and in various art forms. During this process it adapted to new religious, social and political contexts. Besides Hindu versions, Jain and Buddhist versions exist as well, and the story was also adopted in Muslim contexts, and helped to shape new social and political ideologies and agendas. The Ramayana still has a dominant position in the culture of India and beyond, functioning as a binding factor between South and Southeast Asian countries, but also providing heated debates related to cultural belonging and identity. In this course various lecturers with different backgrounds will discuss different Ramayanas in various cultural contexts so as to provide a key to understand the rich Ramayana heritage of South and Southeast Asia and the cultural dynamics that helped to shape it.

Course objectives

  • Advanced knowledge of the Ramayana in South and Southeast Asia.

  • Insight in the flexibility of the Ramayana tradition to adapt, in different media, to different religious, social and political contexts in South and Southeast Asia.

  • Academic skills to summarize and critically discuss scholarly publications and to apply the knowledge and insights acquired during this course in a written paper.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and participation are obligatory. Classes missed for a good reason (to the discretion of the conveners and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course load

Total course load: 140 hours
Attending lectures/seminars: 24 hours
Studying and critically summarizing the compulsory literature: 80 hours
Writing a 2000-word paper: 36 hours

Assessment method

  1. Active participation: weekly web-postings, presentations, discussion (40% of overall mark)
    1. Research paper (60% of the overall mark)

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.45 (=6) or higher. Students receiving an overall grade of 5.49 (=5) or lower, will be allowed to rewrite their Research paper (60%). The new deadline will be determined by the convenor of the course.

The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.



Reading list

Texts will be made available after the start of the course.


Students of the BA program South Southeast Asia Studies are required to register through uSis before August/January 15. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Not registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Studeren à la carte nor Contractonderwijs is possible for this course.


Mw. Prof.dr. Marijke Klokke


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).