What Is Intellectual History in India?

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSLS2HS3068

Semester and Year Offered: Winter Semester

Course Coordinator and Team: Prof. Denys P. Leighton

Email of course coordinator: denys[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: Semester IV course for students of the MA History programme. Closed to non-History students.

AIM: Through this course students produce a historical research paper of 5000 – 6000 words based on analysis of primary sources. Some particular problematics of intellectual history in India will be investigated through an initial course of reading of work by such historians as Quentin Skinner, Dominick LaCapra, Jonardan Ganeri, Sheldon Pollock and Kumkum Chatterjee. Students will choose their research topics with attention to ideas, people bearing or using them, ‘events’ and processes of change that can be studied historically in India.

Course Outcomes: The course will help:

  1. Production of historical research paper of 5000 – 6000 words, based on primary (unpublished or published) sources.
  2. Research work will be presented to a panel of programme faculty in the presence of fellow students.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules: N/A.

Assessment Details with weights:

as for other MA History ‘research papers’: culminating assessment (research essay) is submitted at the end of the semester (late April/early May). Other components of assessment are a mid-term ‘progress presentation’ (viva) in the month of March and the viva examination following submission of the final research essay. Course grade is determined by supervisor grade (75%) and viva grade awarded by other programme faculty (25%).

Reading List:

  • Kumkum Chatterjee, ‘History as Self-Representation: the Recasting of Political Tradition in Late 18th-century Eastern India’, Modern Asian Studies, 32 (1998): 913-48.
  • Kumkum Chatterjee, ‘The King of Controversies: History and Nation-Making in Late Colonial India’, Am.Hist.Rev., 110:4 (2005): 1454-75.
  • Peter E. Gordon, ‘What Is Intellectual History? A Frankly Partisan Introduction to a Frequently Misunderstood Field’ (privately circulated, 2013)
  • Sheldon Pollock, ‘Is There an Indian Intellectual History?’, Journal of Indian Philosophy, 36 (2008): 533-42.
  • Q. Skinner, ‘Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas’, History and Theory, 8 (1969): 393-408; reprinted in Skinner, Visions of Politics. Vol. I (Cambridge, 2002).
  • J. E. Toews, ‘Intellectual History After the Linguistic Turn’, American Historical Review, 92 (1987): 879-907.