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South Asia, which includes the modern-day nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives, is often compared to the European continent. Regional societies in the Indian “subcontinent” are as distinct from each other as those of Italy, Germany and France. Similarly, they also differ in their language, dress, diet, rituals and politics. However, parallel to the wealth of diversity, South Asia also demonstrates a rich history of interconnectedness. This complex web of culture, language, religion and politics is best manifested in the arts of the region. How does visual culture reflect regional variations? How does a survey of artistic style and iconography help uncover networks of exchange across South Asia? What role did the arts play in the expression of religious traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Islam? With these questions in mind, this course is designed as a survey of the arts of South Asia starting with the height of the Indus Valley Civilization in 2600 BCE and ending in 1857 CE, a date that marks the cessation of independent rule in South Asia. Using the study of architecture, painting, sculpture and textiles, students will learn how to make stylistic and iconographic analyses, while also improving their art historical writing and analytic skills.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
Weekly reading discussion GLOW posts. Two short quizzes. Mid-term. Final exam
none, open to all students
First years, sophomores and juniors
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
In addition to a survey, the course also highlights the conceptual differences between the arts of South Asia and Western constructs of art and culture. The survey will analyze how South Asian art was codified and examined during the colonial and post-colonial periods, and how that understanding has come to define the field over the last century. The course will encourage students to challenge longstanding biases and assumptions when studying these artworks.
GBST South + Southeast Asia Studies Electives