Fri, Jan 21|
SASA Mini Reading Group: Loving, Losing, Remembering: Kālidāsa’s "The Recognition of Śakuntalā"
3-Week Text-In-Translation Reading Group Fridays @ 12 pm EST Led by Tuhin Bhattacharjee
Time & Location
Jan 21, 2022, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST
About the Event
Previous participation and previous knowledge not required.
“Wouldst thou the earth and heaven itself in one sole name combine? I name thee, O Śakuntalā! and all at once is said."
Goethe famously dedicated these lines to the protagonist of his favorite Sanskrit play. What is it about the figure of Śakuntalā, a young woman forgotten by her husband as the result of a curse, that has captivated audiences—ancient and modern, Eastern and Western—alike? In this reading group, we will study (in translation) Kālidāsa’s Abhijñānaśākuntalam (The Recognition of Śakuntalā), arguably the most influential play from ancient India. We will begin by reading the original story found in the first book of the Mahābhārata and then analyze how Kālidāsa alters the form and the narrative to reflect a new cultural milieu, one that has moved away from a bardic tradition patronized by clansmen to an emerging urban aristocracy. Examining the play in the context of ancient kinship relations, Sanskrit dramaturgy and poetics (particularly, the rasa theory of Bharata’s Nāṭyaśāstra), as well as 19th-20th century receptions of the play, we will ask: what does the play tell us about dramatic conventions in ancient India? How does ancient Indian dramaturgy relate to another famous tradition, that of ancient Greek tragedy? How was the play received in Orientalist, German Romantic, and Indian nationalist commentaries that projected Śakuntalā as the paragon of the Indian woman? In what ways does the text speak to feminist concerns when read today?
3-Week Text-In-Translation Reading Group
Fridays @ 12 pm EST
Participants only need to register for each Reading Group once, you will receive links to our Live Syllabus where readings and discussions are posted in the confirmation email.
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