Studying India’s Past: Traditions, Trends and New Approaches

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSLS3HS0024

Semester and Year Offered: usually Winter Semester.

Course Coordinator and Team:The course coordinator is the programme coordinator (PC).

Email of course coordinator:denys[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in(in WS 2018, WS 2019)

Pre-requisites: none.

Description. The course builds upon SLS3HS001 (Monsoon Semester) and shifts focus to India-specific historical methods and debates. Like SLS3HS001, this is a team-taught course whose composition changes every year. While the assumption is that most students will be researching areas of Indian and South Asian history, the course is prescribed even for students who work in areas of ‘non-Indian’ history, because many of them will go on to teach aspects of Indian and South Asian history. Students are given relevant course readings and learning materials before each class (meeting once a week) and are expected to discuss them in class with the appointed teacher and with each other. Half way through the semester they submit their first essay (2500 – 3000 words) on a question given by any one of the course teachers; a second essay of similar scope is due at the end of the semester. Students may be allowed to revise and re-submit the first essay for a better grade.

Course Outcomes:

  1. Students will improve their skills in writing about scholarly debates and learn how to evaluate and participate in such debates.
  2. Students will improve their academic verbal communication skills.
  3. Students will apply the ‘taught’ methods to their own historical practice/thesis research.

Brief description of modules/topics:

  • Intellectual Involution in the Domain of Sources, Archive and Meaning
  • Indian Histories in Global/Comparative Framework
  • Traditions of History Writing in India
  • Approaches to Study of Nationalism in the Indian Subcontinent
  • Doing Indian Intellectual History
  • Doing Cultural Histories in India: Dreams, Memories, Spatiality
  • Understanding Caste in Indian History
  • Approaches to Study of ‘Partition’
  • Approaches to Study of Region in South Asia
  • Economic History at the Crossroads, 1600-2000
  • Approaches to Study of Indian Urban History
  • Approaches to Study of Indian Environmental History
  • Law in Indian History
  • History in/through Indian Film
  • Indian History through Literatur

As noted above, 10 -12 topics are chosen for each rendition of this course, depending on faculty interest and availability.

Assessment Details with weights:




Date/period in which assessment will take place



Essay 1 (topic essay: 2500 – 3000 words)

Half way through semester



Essay 2 (topic essay: 2500 - 3000 words)

At semester end



Reading List (indicative):

A comprehensive list of all readings used for this course since 2011 would be too large to provide here. No single historiography textbook or historical methods textbook is prescribed. The typical quantum of reading for each topic/course meeting is 100 – 300 pages: usually a few book chapters and 3 – 4 journal articles, but for some topics entire books are prescribed. Course teachers regularly change their ‘reading lists’ to reflect the most recent scholarly interventions and debates.