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Emperors of Heaven and Earth: Mughal Power and Art in India, 1525-1707
/ HIST 314
/ ASST 314
The Mughal dynasty ruled over most of northern India from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The Mughal Empire was the grandest and longest to rule the Indian subcontinent–much larger than any European empire in the early modern world–and it continued to have a lasting impact on South Asia. Mughals established a centralized administration with a vast complex of personnel, money and information networks. Styling themselves as ‘Emperors of Heaven and Earth’, the Mughal kings were also globally viewed as political innovators and unprecedented patrons of art. Their visual practices were as much a part of their imperial ideologies as their administrative and military measures. This co-taught course combines the disciplines of Art History and History to explore the intricate workings of Mughal politics and ideologies. The first of its kind to bring an interdisciplinary approach to teaching South Asia at Williams, the course asks: How did the Mughals sustain their empire for three centuries? How did they use art and politics to rule over diverse and largely non-Muslim populations? How did these Muslim imperial patrons merge Persian and Central Asian cultural values with preexisting Indian forms of administrative and artistic expression? How does Mughal culture continue to shape the South Asian imagination today? Readings will include a variety of visual and literary texts. We will delve deep into the world of biographies, travel accounts, poetry, architecture and a plethora of artworks. Students will take a hands-on approach to Mughal painting through several visits to the WCMA and a dedicated Object Lab. The primary aim of this co-taught course is to introduce students to a multifaceted picture of one of the greatest empires in pre-colonial world history. Another goal is to familiarize them with a wide range of visual and written primary sources and develop a vocabulary for ‘reading’ these.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
class participation and weekly responses to readings, 4-5 short papers and a final paper
students who have previously taken HIST312 will not be permitted to take this course; no other prerequisites
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ARTH pre-1800 Courses
HIST Group B Electives - Asia
HIST Group P Electives - Premodern