Religions of Modern India

Spring Semester 2016

Course Outline:



Readings and Assignments

Readings are due for the day
on which they are listed




Week One

Jan. 19: Introducing the study of religion and modernity in India




Conceptualizing Indian modernity

Jan. 21: Modernity and Identity: Caste

Video: Caste at Birth (documentary, 2000)
by Mira Hammermesh


Š      Ramanujan, A. K., “Annayya’s Anthropology” [BB]

Š      Dirks, Nicholas, “The Modernity of Caste” [BB] SD1


Week Two

Jan. 26: Modernity and Tradition: Communalism



Š      Pandey, Questions of Nationalism and Communalism [BB] SD2

Jan. 28:  The Idea of Westernization


Š      Srinivas, “Westernization” [BB] SD3

Š      Tagore, Rabindranath.  Gora, chs 1-7




On pre-modern Indian history

Week Three

Feb. 02: Interpreting “ancient India”


Š      MSA ch. 2 HO1

Feb. 04:  Accommodations of difference and the making of Indo-Islamic cultures


Š      MSA, chs. 3-4 HO2





Week Four

Feb. 09:  No Class


Feb 11:  Devi.  A film by Satyajit Ray





Company Raj and British Liberal Reform

Week five

Feb 16:  British East India Company


Š      MSA, chs. 7 & 8 HO3

Š      “The company that ruled the waves,” The Economist, Dec. 2011 [BB]

Š      Gora, chs. 8-14


Feb 18: Liberalism, Christianity, and Empire

Š      Metcalf, Thomas R. “Liberalism and Empire” [BB] SD4

Š      Roy, Rammohun, “The Brahmunical Magazine or the Missionary and the Brahmun, being a Vindication of the Hindoo Religion against the Attacks of Christian Missionaries” (1821), pp. 145-158 [BB]

Š      Gora, chs. 15-31



Hindu Reform

Week six

Feb. 23: Brahmo Samajh:
Rammohun Roy, Debendranath Tagore, and
Keshub Chunder Sen


Š      Lavan, Spencer.  The Brahmo Samajh: India’s First Modern Movement for Religious Reform [BB] SD5

Š      Gora, chs. 32-38



The Sati Debate

Feb. 25: The Sati Debate in Colonial India


Š      Mani, Lata.  Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India [BB] SD6

Š      Roy, Rammohun, “Translation of a Conference between an Advocate for and an Opponent of the Practice of Burning Widows Alive” (1818) [BB] SD7

Š      “Petition of Hindus Against the Abolition of Sati” (1829) [BB]

Š      Bentinck, William.  On Ritual Murder in India, 1829. 




Crown Raj

Week Seven

Mar. 01: Gora


Š      Gora, chs. 39-45


March 02: Take-Home Midterm Posted Here


Mar. 03: Perspectives on Sati:
Traditional, Colonial, Contemporary


Š      Courtright, The Iconographies of Sati [BB] SD08



March 06: Take-Home Midterm Due via Google


Week Eight

Mar. 08: The Revolt of 1857


Š      MSA ch. 9 HO4

Š      Premchand, The Chess Players [BB]

Mar. 10: Gora

Š      Gora, chs. 46-52




Week nine

Mar. 14 - 19: No Class (Spring Recess)



Week ten

Mar. 22: Crown Raj, Religious Reform, and Swadeshi Nationalism


Š      MSA, chs. 10 & 11 HO5

Š      Gora, chs. 53-59

Mar. 24: The Ramkrishna Movement

Š      MSA chs. 12 & 13 HO6

Š      Williams, George.  The Ramakrishna Movement: A Study in Religious Change [BB] SD09




Week eleven

Mar. 29: No Class (All Day Advising)


Š      MSA chs. 14 & 15 HO7


Mar. 31:  Gandhi’s life and writings



Š      The Essential Gandhi.  Preface & Part One SQ10

Š      Part Two (chapters 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 24)



April 3rd: Viewing of Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi



Week twelve

April 05: Criticism of Gandhi and Criticisms of Gandhi


Recent published photos of the last ten years of Gandhi’s life (BBC)


Š      Attenborough’s Truth: The Politics of Gandhi [BB] SD12

Š      Lal, The Gandhi Everyone Loves to Hate [BB] SD13

April 07: Gandhi’s Nationalism and Critique of Modernity

Š      Gandhi, M. K., Hind Swaraj SD14

Š      Gora, chs. 60-66




Week thirteen

April 12: Tagore


Š      Tuck, D.  Rabindranath Tgore: Religion as a Constant Struggle for Balance [BB] SD15

Š      Gora, chs. 67-76

April 14: Independence and Partition


In Pictures: India’s Partition


Š      MSA chs. 16 HO8

Š      Butalia, “Blood” and “Facts” [BB]



Women and Marriage

Week fourteen

April 19:  Hindu Women, Politics, and Religious Leadership during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries


Š      Falk, N.   Shakti Ascending [BB] SD16

April 21: Film – Jai Santoshi Ma

Š      Viramma et al.  Viramma: Life of a Dalit, chs. 2,3 4. [BB] SD17




Week fifteen

April 26:  Discussion of Viramma autobiography and the film Santoshi Ma



Š      Hawley, The Goddess in India (section on Santoshi Ma) [BB] SD18



Hindu Nationalism and the Babri Masjid


April 28: The Ayodhya Campaign and

the Babri Masjid


Š      Tambiah, S. Hindu Nationalism, the Ayodhya Campaign, and the Babri Masjid SD19






Take-Home Final Exam:  Due on Monday May 9th


See Blackboard for Exam Questions

Please submit via google







Portfolio Assignment:

Due by 11:59 PM, May 10. 
Please leave your portfolio in the tray outside of my office

Insert a piece of paper with the address to which
you would like the portfolio to be sent.


Students will compile a portfolio of their work through the semester.  The portfolio will help me to grade holistically, taking into consideration the overall trajectory in the level and quality of your work.  The 100 point score will reflect the apparent care that went into creating the portfolio, and the apparent thoughtfulness that went into your integrative reflections.  Be sure that your binder is large enough to allow for turning the pages.  The contents of the portfolio should be organized into the following sections, divided by labeled tabs for each section:





4.   EXAM 1 (Midterm)

5.   EXAM 2 (Final)

6.   INTEGRATIVE REFLECTIONS (Minimum 500 words total.)

a.  For this section, please compose a set of broad reflections on what you take to be the major insights (if any) that you have gained from the readings and discussions.  Be specific about readings.  Finish by describing the major questions about India that are left unanswered for you.

b.  Evaluate your own work in the class.  How do you think you did in listening, presenting, reading, and writing?  What would you do differently?





Assignments and    Grading

Summaries and Discussion Points [SD]

200 (10 each)


History Outline Entries [HO]

Exam 1

120 (30 each, top 4)

80 (10 per HO)


Exam 2








Final Grade Values
1000 Points Possible

920 to 1000 = A

         900 to 919 = A-

880 to 899 = B+

820 to 879 = B

800 to 819 = B-

780 to 799 = C+


720 to 779 = C

700 to 719 = C-

680 to 699 = D+

620 to 679 = D

600 to 619 = D-

599 & below = F


Track your progress on Blackboard