ENGL 353
Disinterest in the Bhagavad Gita Spring 2025
Division I
Cross-listed COMP 313 / REL 353 / ASIA 351

Class Details

In this course, students will read the Bhagavad Gita alongside selected responses to it. These responses range from philosophical and theological commentaries written in Sanskrit by Shankaracharya, Abhinavagupta, and Ramanuja, to later “Bhakti” poetic responses in other Indian languages, to 18th and 19th century European aesthetic and political commentary (Herder, Schlegel, Hegel), to the work of 20th century commentators like M.K. Gandhi, B.G. Tilak, B.R. Ambedkar and D.D. Kosambi. We will examine the Gita’s theory of action and the place of disinterest in this theory. We will inquire into the social, metaphysical, and political conditions of possibility of such disinterestedness, and think about disinterestedness itself as a condition for political action and aesthetic experience. Finally, we will reflect on how such a comparative history of interpretation might help us model a dialectical history of thought.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 8-10
Class#: 3632
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Weekly meetings, weekly reading; weekly essay or response. Attendance in 2-3 lectures over the semester.
Prerequisites: No prerequisites
Enrollment Preferences: Majors in English and Comparative Literature; Religion, Classics, or Philosophy majors; Sophomores looking to major in any of these.
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 353 Division I COMP 313 Division I REL 353 Division II ASIA 351 Division I
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories A

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