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The Seminar’s initial call for papers is intended to explore the state of the field of Mahābhārata studies. We will solicit papers addressing the various approaches employed in previously published works to any part of the Mahābhārata tradition, e.g., Sanskrit or vernacular texts, dramas, and ritual enactments. Papers proposing new avenues of approach or areas in which new research is needed are also welcome. Analysis of the extensive contributions of Alf Hiltebeitel to the understanding of the Sanskrit text and its performative traditions would also be welcome.

Mission Statement:

The Mahābhārata and Classical Hinduism Seminar seeks to facilitate the academic exchange so necessary to progress through a format similar to a workshop, with pre-circulated papers. This seminar will bring together philologists, Indologists, ethnographers, scholars of performance theory and practices, and generalists taking on the daunting task of incorporating India’s great epic into their coursework on Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, or Yoga. Over the course of the five-year seminar, we hope that these varied approaches will prove mutually illuminating and raise new questions. The seminar’s scope includes not only the Sanskrit text, but also dramatic and fictional retellings, regional and vernacular versions, etc. We will select papers by asking the following four questions, which will change somewhat according to each year’s topic: Does the paper shine a new light on some previously underappreciated aspect, episode, character, or form of the epic? Does the paper either represent or respond to the most current trends and arguments in Mahābhārata studies? Does the paper help to demystify the Mahābhārata, helping non-specialists who are intimidated by its length and complexity to incorporate it into their teaching or scholarship? Does the paper provide a model for interdisciplinary practice (e.g., Does it bridge the gap between philology and new forms of critical textual analysis or between ethnography and history of religions?).

Method of Submission:




Arti Dhand, arti.dhand@utoronto.ca

Bruce M. Sullivan, bruce.sullivan@nau.edu


Steering Committee:

Brian Collins, collinb1@ohio.edu

Shubha Pathak, pathak@american.edu

Frederick M. Smith, frederick-smith@uiowa.edu


Session Allotment: Two 90-minute sessions (may be back-to-back)

Expiration: December 31, 2025