LIBERAL STUDIES 210: INDIAN CIVILIZATION FROM THE MAHABHARATA TO THE MAHATMA


North Island College Winter 2021

Delivery Format: Digital Learning Scheduled (We will meet as a group via videoconferencing at least once a week.  You will be expected to spend an average of 5+ hours a week on the course yourself.)

Meeting Time: T, Th: 2:30 pm - 3:50 pm

Office Phone:  334-5000, Extension 4024

Home Phone250-336-0238 

Web- Site for Course:  https://www.misterdann.com/contentsindiancivilization.htm 

E-Mail: dan.hinmansmith@nic.bc.ca

 


 

Course Description

LIB 210 provides an intensive introduction to the culture and history of India.  The course will be organized around a series of core texts and collaborative seminars.  Students will be expected to engage in extensive critical reading, writing, and in-class discussion.  Those students who have taken other editions of Topics In World Civilization are not eligible to take this particular version of the course for credit.


Texts

DK, Illustrated Mahabharata: The Definitive Guide To India's Greatest Epic (New York: 2017).

Wendy Doniger, ed. and trans., Rig Veda (New York: Penguin, 1981).

Karen Armstrong, Buddha (New York: Penguin, 2004).

Mahatma Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story Of My Experiments With Truth (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993).

***It is critically important that you acquire all four books.  You will be unable to participate in the course in a meaningful way without the texts.  All four books are available for purchase at the NIC Bookstore.


Learning Outcomes

This course is designed to:

(1)  Provide students with an integrated understanding of a particular global culture or theme.

(2)  Push students to analyze important and challenging texts and to assess the connections between those works and the civilizations in which they were produced.

(3)  Help students to further develop their critical thinking, writing and speaking skills.

(4)  Encourage students to participate within a learning community and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of an intensive, collaborative seminar model.


Tentative Class Schedule

Week 1  (January 11-15)

Orientation For Week 1


Listening And Viewing

"Beginnings," Episode 1, Story Of India, BBC, 2007 (55 mins).  You can also watch this video through NIC's Films On Demand database.

"Earliest History Of The Indian Subcontinent," Episode 1, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (33 mins).  As explained below, you will need a Vancouver Island Regional Library Card to access the History of India lectures.

"Migration And The Adivasis," Episode 2, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (34 mins).

"Indus Valley Civilization," Episode 3, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (32 mins).


A Note About The History Of India Lecture Series And The Story Of India Video Series

I am asking you to watch the first three lectures of Oberlin College Professor Michael Fisher's 36-lecture series on the History of India this week.  These are available as streaming videos through Kanopy and the Vancouver Island regional Library.  You will need a free VIRL library card and then will need to set up a password to access these lectures.  Information about ordering a library card can be found HERE.  You will be accessing several of Michael Fisher's lectures this semester, as well as some other presentations from different Great Courses series.  I will provide links to those lectures within the syllabus itself, but you can also finds a comprehensive bibliography of VIRL India-related materials at Indian Civilization Video: Vancouver Island Regional Library.

We will be watching all six episodes of Michael Wood's Story Of India documentary series during the course of the semester.  Although I will include links to the individual episodes within the syllabus, you can access the entire series either on public-access websites through my Ancient India Video Links or through NIC's Films On Demand database through my Ancient India: NIC And Vancouver Island Regional Library Video Links.


Week 2  (January 16-22)

Orientation For Week 2


Seminar Topic

History Wars


Discussion Forum Contributions

History Wars


Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  History Wars  Seminar Topic.

Alex Traub, "India's Dangerous New Curriculum," New York Review Of Books (December 6, 2018).

Browse extensively in Ancient Indian History In The News


Listening And Viewing

"Indian Authorities Accused Of Rewriting History Textbooks," Focus, France 24, October 3.  (18 mins.)


Optional Extras

"Earliest History Of The Indian Subcontinent," Episode 1, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (33 mins).  As explained below, you will need a Vancouver Island Regional Library Card to access the History of India lectures.

"Migration And The Adivasis," Episode 2, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (34 mins).

"Indus Valley Civilization," Episode 3, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (32 mins).

Browse in Indian Civilization On-Line Articles: Ancient History.


Week 3  (January 23-29)

Orientation For Week 3


Seminar Topic

 Rivers Of India: The Ganges, The Indus, And The Saraswati


Reading Assignment

Read your assigned chapter from Alice Albinia, Empires Of The Indus: The Story Of A River (London: John Murray, 2008).  You will also be responsible for a brief summary and commentary upon your chapter during our January 28th class session.

Browse extensively in  Rivers Of India: The Ganges, The Indus, And The Saraswati  Seminar Topic.


Listening And Viewing

"Pakistan Unveiled," Episode 1, Treasures Of The Indus, BBC, 2016.  This video is also available through NIC's Films On Demand.


Week 4  (January 30 - February 5)

Orientation For Week 4


Seminar Topic

Illustrated Mahabharata, Part I


Discussion Forum Contributions

Mahabharata


Reading Assignment

DK, Illustrated Mahbharata: The Definitive Guide To India's Greatest Epic (New York: 2017):  pp. 1-209.


Listening And Viewing

"Epic History: Mahabharata," Episode 7, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (31 mins).


Optional Extras

"Mahabharat," Full Animated Film -- Hindu Exclusive With English Subtitles, 2014 (120 mins).

"Dharma In The Bhagavad Gita," Episode 8, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (29 mins).


Looking Ahead


Week 5  (February 6-12)

Orientation For Week 5


Seminar Topic

Ramayana In Indian History, Myth, And Culture


Discussion Forum Contributions

Ramayana


Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Ramayana In Indian History, Myth, And Culture Seminar Topic.

  Diana L, Eck, "Chapter 9, Following Rama -- The Ramayana On The Landscape Of India," India: A Sacred Geography (New York: Harmony Books, 2012): pp. 398-440.


Listening And Viewing

"Spice Routes And Silk Roads," Episode 3, Story Of India, 2007, BBC (59 mins.).  This episode is also available through NIC Films On Demand.


Optional Extras

"Epic Literature: Ramayana," Episode 6, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (32 mins).

"What Is Remembered -- Epics," Episode 4, Sacred Texts Of The World, Grant Hardy, Great Courses, 2014 (34 mins).

"The Great Indian Epics," Episode 19, Great Mythologies Of The World, Great Courses, 2015 (33 mins).


Looking Ahead


***Sunday, February 14:  First-Half Note-Taking Assignment Due (12%)


***Family Day And Reading Break, February 15-21


Week 6  (February 22-26)

Orientation For Week 6


Seminar Topic

Illustrated Mahabharata, Part II


Discussion Forum Contributions

Mahabharata


Reading Assignment

DK, Illustrated Mahbharata: The Definitive Guide To India's Greatest Epic (New York: 2017):  pp. 210-469.


Looking Ahead


***Sunday, February 28:  Mahabharata Seminar Note Due (10%)


Week 7  (February 27 - March 5)

Orientation For Week 7


Seminar Topic

Incarnations


Discussion Forum Contributions

Incarnations


Reading Assignment

Read your assigned biographies from Sunil Khilnani, Incarnations: A History Of India In Fifty Lives (New York: Farrar, Straus And Giroux, 2016).  You will also be responsible for a brief summary and commentary upon your 3 particular biographies during our March 4th class session.


Listening And Viewing

Listen to your corresponding audio biographies from the 2016 BBC Radio 4 series:   Incarnations: A History Of India In Fifty Lives.

"Ages Of Gold," Episode 4, Story Of India, BBC, 2007 (59 mins.).  This episode is also available through NIC Films On Demand.


Optional Extras

"Islam Comes To India," Episode 17, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (31 mins).

"Competing European Empires," Episode 23, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (30 mins).

"The Issues And Events Of 1857," Episode 25, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (29 mins).

"The Partition Of 1947," Episode 30, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (30 mins).


Looking Ahead


Week 8  (March 6-12)

Orientation For Week 8


Seminar Topic

Rig Veda


Discussion Forum Contributions

Rig Veda


Reading Assignment

Wendy Doniger, ed. and trans., Rig Veda (New York: Penguin, 1981).


Listening And Viewing

"Indo-European Vedic Culture," Episode 4, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (32 mins).

"Hinduism And The Vedas," Episode 2, Sacred Texts Of The World, Grant Hardy, Great Courses, 2014 (30 mins).


Optional Extras

"The Vedic Age Of Ancient India," Episode 7, History Of The Ancient World, Gregory Aldrete, Great Courses, 2011 (31 mins).

"The Upanishads," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, November 8, 2012.

"Caste: Varna And Jati," Episode 5, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (30 mins).


Looking Ahead


***Sunday, March 14:  Rig Veda Seminar Note Due (10%)


Week 9  (March 13-19)

Orientation For Week 9


Seminar Topic

Buddha


Discussion Forum Contributions

Buddha


Reading Assignment

Karen Armstrong, Buddha (New York: Penguin, 2004).


Listening And Viewing

"Power Of Ideas," Episode 2, Story Of India, BBC, 2007 (60 mins).  This episode is also available through NIC Films On Demand.


Optional Extras

"Of Gods And Men," Episode 3, Treasures Of The Indus, BBC, 2016.  This video is also available through NIC's Films On Demand.

"Buddha," Genius Of The Ancient World, BBC (59 mins).

"The Origins And Rise Of Jainism," Episode 9, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (31 mins).

"The Origins And Rise Of Buddhism," Episode 10, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (30 mins).

"The Mauryan Empire," Episode 11, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (31 mins).

"Ashoka's Imperial Buddhism," Episode 12, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (30 mins).


Week 10  (March 20-26)

Orientation For Week 10


Seminar Topic

Mughal India And Sikh Civilization


Reading Assignment

Browse extensively in  Mughal India And Sikh Civilization Seminar Topic.


Listening And Viewing

"The Stolen Maharajah: Britain's Indian Royal," BBC Four, 2018 (59 mins).

"The Meeting Of The Oceans," Episode 5, Story Of India, 2007, BBC (60 mins).  This video is also available through NIC's Films On Demand.


Optional Extras

"The Other Side Of The Taj Mahal," Episode 2, Treasures Of The Indus, BBC, 2016.  This video is also available through NIC's Films On Demand.

"Love And Betrayal In India: The White Mughal," BBC Four, BBC, 2015 (59 mins).

"The Sikhs: Between India And Pakistan," DW Documentary, January 21, 2020 (27 mins).

"Related Traditions -- Sikh Scriptures," Episode 6, Sacred Texts Of The World, Grant Hardy, Great Courses, 2014 (30 mins).

"Guru Nanak And The Brahmans," SikhNet Stories, April 24, 2020 (8 minutes).

"Guru Nanak And The Boulder," SikhNet Stories, October 21, 2019 (10 minutes).

"Birth Of Khalsa: Vaisakhi Story," SikhNet Stories, May 30, 2019 (20 minutes).

"Guru Gobind Singh Ji's Arrow," SikhNet Stories, October 4, 2018 (7 minutes).

 

Looking Ahead


***Tuesday, March 23:  Karen Armstrong's Buddha Seminar Note Due (10%)


Week 11  (March 27-April 1)

Orientation For Week 11


Seminar Topic

The Peoples Of India


Student Mini-Presentations

You will be responsible for an in-class Powerpoint Presentation on your chosen Peoples Of India topic.


Optional Extras

"Indian Parsis, Jews, And Christians," Episode 16, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (30 mins).


***Thursday, April 1:  Peoples Of India Powerpoint Mini-Assignment Due (10%)


Week 12  (April 3-9)

Orientation For Week 12


Seminar Topic

Gandhi -- The Story Of My Experiments With Truth


Discussion Forum Contributions

Gandhi


Reading Assignment

Mahatma Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story Of My Experiments With Truth (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993).


Listening And Viewing

"Freedom," Episode 6, Story Of India, BBC, 2007 (59 mins).  This video is also available through NIC's Films On Demand.


Optional Extras

Browse extensively in  Gandhi And The Idea Of India Seminar Topic.

"Mahatma Gandhi," Episode 28, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (29 mins).

"Nationalists Ambedkar, Bose, And Jinnah," Episode 29, History Of India, Michael Fisher, Great Courses, 2016 (30 mins).

"The Making Of The Mahatma," Episode 1, Gandhi, BBC, 2009 (60 mins).

"The Rise To Fame," Episode 2, Gandhi, BBC, 2009 (59 mins).

"The Road To Freedom," Episode 3, Gandhi, BBC, 2009 (59 mins).


***Sunday, April 11:  Gandhi's Autobiography Seminar Note Due (10%)


***Thursday, April 15:  Second Half Note-Taking Assignment Due (12%)


Evaluation

Letter Of Introduction

1%

Seminar Notes (4 x 10%)

40%

First Half Note-Taking Assignment

12%

Second Half Note-Taking Assignment

12%

Peoples Of India Powerpoint Presentation

10%

Seminar Contributions

25%

a)  Letter Of Introduction

Write a short letter of introduction to me at the beginning of the semester.  This should be at least one hundred words in length and is designed to give me a beginning idea of who you are and how I might best serve you as a teacher, and to provide me with an opening snapshot of the class as a whole. You need not use the following questions as direct cues but they may be helpful.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  How might you begin to describe your community and what life is like there if you've come to NIC from far away?  What are your interests?  Why are you taking this course?  What are your thoughts and reflections as you begin LIB 210?  How familiar are you already with Indian Civilization?  Have you already engaged in the formal study of Indian History and, if so, what has that involved?  How familiar, if at all, are you with the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, and how have you encountered and experienced these stories?  Are there topics associated with the course that you know will be of potential interest? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions?  This is an assignment I ask of students in each of my classes.  If you are enrolled in more than one class with me this semester, a single letter of introduction will suffice, though I would like you to devote considerable attention to the questions above about Indian History and Civilization.  Submit your Letter of Introduction to me through the Blackboard Learn site ( https://learn.nic.bc.ca).


b)  Seminar Notes (10% x 4 = 40%)

Seminar notes are commentaries of approximately two-to-three double-spaced pages apiece (600+ words) upon each of the required four course texts.  The purpose of these reflective reading responses is to provide you with the opportunity to organize your thoughts after each of the core readings.  The notes should be analytical in nature and should highlight key themes from the reading.  Your own interpretations must be at the centre of each seminar note.  I want to see you engaging directly with the text rather than paraphrasing someone else's descriptions or review.

An unsatisfactory seminar note is one in which you either seem to rely entirely upon secondary sources and thus do not engage with the text, or in which you do not demonstrate any understanding of the text.

The satisfactory seminar note will offer evidence that you have engaged directly with the text and drawn something of larger meaning from it.  Your ideas may not be fully developed or as clearly stated as might be the case, but you do demonstrate that you have taken something away from your encounter with the book.

A good seminar note will show evidence of attentive reading and of engagement with the text.  You will organize your thoughts coherently and demonstrate the ability to explain and to explore key themes that you highlight from the text.

The excellent seminar note will probe chosen themes in an original, organized, and analytical manner.  The commentary will effectively connect together your larger ideas with the particularities of the reading, using examples and specific text to accentuate your writing.

Seminar notes are usually due on the Sunday after our  class discussion of that particular text.  They can be typed or hand-written, though for either format you should take some notes, make an outline, and carefully organize your thoughts before attempting to write your paper.


c)  Note-Taking Assignment (12% x 2 = 24%)

You should take notes on the course material.  The assignment is designed to engage you in the process of absorbing new material and sorting out what is of most significance; to provide you with a record and reminder of what you have read; and to serve as an accountability mechanism and way for me to gauge how you have approached your out-of-class studies.

You certainly are not expected to take notes on everything you read and are encouraged to design this exercise so that it can be helpful to you rather than being something that gets reduced a make-work project.  For example, while you may decide that you want to take some notes on the core texts, I think it would be fully appropriate to decide that your time could be better spent reading these books and limiting your note-taking to a range of seminar topic articles, documentaries, and lectures.  Shorter but thoughtful and genuinely interactive notes may be more educational that extensive notes in which you do not engage in much condensing or commentary.

You should demonstrate through the Note-Taking Project, however, that you have spent many hours a week studying the course curriculum.  This is meant to be an on-going weekly project that is coordinated with our seminar discussions rather than an assignment that is completed in a concentrated burst of energy near the due dates.  Although I appreciate that many students may not have the time to devote to the Optional Extras within the syllabus, those who are able to fold a number of these items into their Note-Taking will receive credit for that.

The First-Half Notes are due just before the Reading Break. They can be typed or handwritten, and should be submitted as a single file through the appropriate Blackboard Dropbox.  The Second-Half Notes will be due at the end of the semester.


d)  Peoples Of India Powerpoint Presentation (10%)

This will be a mini-assignment in which you describe the history and experiences of one particular group of Indians (egs. Adivasis, Jains, Parsis, Jews, Widows, Dalits, Roma) through an in-class Powerpoint Presentation that combines images and texts.  You will then hand in this project for grading.


e)  Seminar Contributions (25%)

The seminar experience is a fundamental component of Liberal Studies.  Seminars are designed to provide you with the opportunity to develop, deepen and consider alternatives to your own interpretation of the texts.  The seminar is a study group where all of us meet to discuss a work that we have read thoughtfully before we arrive.  Our goal is to enhance another's understanding of the issues raised by the text.  Listening and responding specifically and effectively to what others say will keep the discussion focused and ensure that, when the topic changes, everyone will understand where it is going and why.

Some important aspects of seminar participation are the quality and quantity of your contributions to discussion; your helpfulness to others in maintaining a successful conversation within the seminar; and your ability to listen as well as to talk.

Good participation is not a matter of how much you say but of the value of what you say as a  contribution to shared understanding.  Dominating the discussion will not allow others to examine your ideas.  Never having much to say will deprive the seminar of your valuable ideas and critical abilities.  Straying too quickly off topic and speaking without listening can derail what might otherwise be a profitable discussion.  Good seminar participation involves not only having an idea to share but also gently encouraging quiet colleagues to speak; politely but firmly requesting dominating members to let others respond; pointing out when the focus has switched too abruptly or is missing; and asking for clarification when you can't remember or figure out what's being talked about.

It is important that all students contribute effectively, including those who may find themselves reluctant to speak up in a group discussion.  Any student who continues to find this a problem should discuss the matter thoroughly with the instructor, so that together they can work out some ways of resolving the difficulties.

The most important components in the assessment of your performance in the seminar discussions are the following: attendance, preparation for the seminar (thoughtful completion of the required reading before the class session), and the quality and quantity of your participation in the seminar discussions.

Here is a rough scale for evaluating individual seminar sessions:

A range:  Is clearly well-prepared and makes a major contribution to the seminar discussion.

B range:  Is prepared and makes a meaningful contribution to the discussion.

C range:  Is present but does not offer evidence of successful engagement with the text.

D:  Is physically present but seems otherwise absent.

F:  Is physically absent without a valid reason.


A Note On Plagiarism

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty about what is permitted here.


Related Policy

Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (3-06)

Instructional Accommodation and Access Services for Students with Disabilities (3-17)

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Academic Standing and Progression (3-37)

Grading System (4-14)


WELCOME TO THE COURSE

 

free
web stats