This course is an introduction to the literary cultures of South and Southeast Asia: texts and their connections to cultural and historical contexts. We attend to classical as well as modern literature, oral as well as written texts, manuscripts as well as printed books and magazines, to India and surrounding countries as well as Indonesia and Southeast Asia in general.
A wide range of questions will be addressed. These questions may include, among other things: nineteenth and twentieth-century novels and short stories in Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, and English; the ongoing reinterpretation of the classical epics Mahabharata and Ramayana across South and Southeast Asia; oral performance of stories and poetry; and narratives of quest in all manner of literary and theatrical genres. Underneath this varied set of themes, the course remains focused on the two-way interaction between texts and the social, political, and religious environments in which they are composed, recited, read, heard, and discussed.
The study materials of this course consist of two kinds of texts: scholarly and literary ones. In preparation of each class meeting, students read one to three scholarly articles or chapters about that week’s theme and one or more short literary texts (in translation). Student prepare weekly web-postings and give regular presentations on these readings. Alongside the class meetings, in the course of the semester students independently read one longer literary work (in translation). This work is selected in consultation with the instructors. It will be discussed jointly in the last class.
fundamental knowledge of and insight into the written and oral literatures of South and Southeast Asia and their past and present cultural position;
fundamental knowledge of and insight into current scholarly debates on South and Southeast Asian literatures;
training of analytical skills with regard to questions of literary culture by means of critical analysis of South and Southeast Asian literatures and of their scholarly study;
self-critical awareness, especially the ability to relativize culturally instilled attitudes
Mode of instruction
Total course load for the course: 140 hours.
Hours spent on attending the seminars: 22 hours.
Approximate time for studying the compulsory literature (scholarly and literary): 60 hours
Approximate time for writing the web-postings and preparing for presentations: 30 hours
Approximate time for individual reading and study of a longer work of South or Southeast Asian literature, as well as writing the concluding essay: 28 hours
The assessment of Literatures of South and Southeast Asia consists of the following elements:
- Weekly assignments (web-postings): 30% of overall mark
- In-class presentations about the scholarly and/or literary readings (including week-to-week presentations and the concluding round-table): 30% of overall mark
- Final Essay: 40% of overall mark
In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher. In case of a fail, only the end-semester essays can be resubmitted.
The course is an integrated whole. The assignments and the final essay must be completed in the same academic year as the in-class presentations. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.
If a student requests in writing a review of his/her essay within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an essay review will be organized.
Blackboard is used for:
table of contents and extended course description (syllabus) of the course
web-postings by students
A reading list to be announced later. The readings must be studied prior to the class in question.
Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs
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All other information.