Asian Languages and Literature jointly offered with Comparative Religion
Ramayana in Comparative Perspective

Heidi Pauwels

Course description

The story of Rama, or "Ramayana", has through the centuries influenced not only religious and moral but also cultural, social and political life in south and southeast Asia. The classical version of the story is often seen to be the Sanskrit epic attributed to Valmiki, commonly said to be compiled from the second century BC till the second century CE. However, proof of the popularity of the story are its innumerable retellings not only in Sanskrit but also in local languages, some of which have become regional classics in their own right. Its remarkable persistence is clear from recent transformations in the form of comic book, film, and television versions. In this course, we will compare different versions (mainly south Asian) of the Ramayana, including the widely popular television version. We will concentrate on some of the most famous and controversial passages, with special attention to gender issues. We will incorporate background readings from the most recent research, some of which not yet published. Students will be graded on the basis of class preparation and discussion preparation as well as on their final paper.

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Last modified: 10/8/2003 2:36 pm