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Forthcoming lectures

Readings in Phenomenology: Session Seven

Prof. Gavin Flood
Thursday, 23 November 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

Phenomenology is one of the` most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century, and it has also had a deep impact on other theoretical fields more widely conceived. This seminar series seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology, and has turned in the past to thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Peter Sloterdijk, Quentin Meillassoux, and others.

Hinduism 1: Sources and Formation: Session Seven

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 24 November 2017 -
10:00am to 11:00am
Gibson Building, Faculty of Theology & Religion

These lectures offer a thematic and historical introduction to the sources and early development of ‘Hindu’ traditions from their early formation to the early medieval period. We will explore the formation of Hindu traditions through textual sources, such as the Vedas, Upaniṣads and Bhagavad-gītā, along with the practices and social institutions that formed classical Hindu traditions.

Śākta Traditions Symposium

Monday, 27 November 2017 -
10:00am to 4:00pm
OCHS Library

Hinduism cannot be understood without the Goddess (Devī/Śakti) and the goddess-oriented Śākta traditions. The Goddess pervades Hinduism at all levels, from aniconic village deities to high-caste pan-Hindu goddesses to esoteric, tantric goddesses. Nevertheless, these highly influential forms of South Asian religion have only recently begun to draw a more broad scholarly attention. Taken together, they form ‘Śāktism’, which is by many considered one of the major branches of Hinduism next to Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism. Śāktism is, however, less clearly defined than the other major branches and sometimes surprisingly difficult to discern from Śaivism in its tantric forms. These sometimes very complex and challenging forms of Śākta religion provide a test case for our understanding of Hinduism and raise important theoretical and methodological questions with regard to the study of religious traditions in South Asia as well as to the more general and comparative study of religion.

This Śākta symposium is a contribution by a number of scholars to the Śākta Traditions project and its endeavor in tracing developments in the history of goddess worship among the orthoprax brahmans, among the tantric traditions and at village level in South Asia. Thus, the symposium acts as a historical exploration of distinctive Indian ways of imagining God as Goddess (and goddesses), a survey of important origins and developments within Śākta history, practice and doctrine in its diversity, as well as an insight into the fascinating Śākta religious imaginaire and ritual practice that may be considered distinctive and thus sets ‘Śāktism’ apart from other forms of South Asian religion.

The Representational Spectrum of the Goddess: Anthropomorphism, Aniconism, Physiomorphism

Prof Mikael Aktor

The Poetry of Thought in the Theology of the Tripurārahasya

Dr Silvia Schwarz Linder

Śākta-narratives in 19th-Century Nepalese Chronicles

Dr Rajan Khatiwoda

Yogic Theoria cum Praxi: Embodied Memory in the Śākta Anthropology of
Kuṇḍalinīyoga in Medieval India

Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen & Dr Silje Lyngar Einarsen

Sanskrit Prelims 1: Session Eight

Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Monday, 27 November 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

The course provides an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper of the Theology and Religion Faculty in Elementary Sanskrit. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the basics of Sanskrit grammar, syntax and vocabulary. By the end of the course students will have competency in translating simple Sanskrit and reading sections of the Bhagavadgītā and passages from other texts. The course book will be Maurer’s The Sanskrit Language.

The Pañcāyatanapūjā and the Problem of Aniconism

Prof. Mikael Aktor
Tuesday, 28 November 2017 -
4:00pm to 5:00pm
OCHS Library

The Pañcāyatanapūjā is a worship of five deities, Śiva, Viṣṇu, Sūrya, Gaṇeśa and Devī. It emerged as a ritual style within the Smārta movement and appeared both in temple architecture and as a domestic worship performed with small stones and/or figurines representing the gods. The worship which had almost died out in most parts of India has recently been revived among Smārta Brahmins in Tamil Nadu. An analysis of the ritual can proceed from different perspectives. There are the social-historical developments which may explain the revival in Tamil Nadu. But there is also the theoretical perspective of aniconicity as a deliberate choice of representation vis-à-vis the iconic, anthropomorphic forms of the gods. Together with a group of researchers with expertise in different religious traditions I have been examining this spectrum of visual and material choices. The seminar will present an overview of the results of this research.

Mikael Aktor is Associate Professor of History of Religions at the Institute of Philosophy, Education and the Study of Religions, University of Southern Denmark. He holds a PhD from University of Copenhagen, a part of which was carried out at School of Oriental and African Studies, London. His field of expertise is within the study of Dharmaśāstra, in particular with a focus on caste and untouchability. He has lately been engaged in research on North Indian Śaiva temple ritual and temple sculpture as part of a general interest in ritual studies and religious aesthetics.

Readings in Phenomenology: Session Eight

Prof. Gavin Flood
Thursday, 30 November 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

Phenomenology is one of the` most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century, and it has also had a deep impact on other theoretical fields more widely conceived. This seminar series seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology, and has turned in the past to thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Peter Sloterdijk, Quentin Meillassoux, and others.

Conference: Empathy in Hinduism: Ritual, Drama, Aesthetics

Conference
Friday, 1 December 2017 -
9:00am to 5:30pm
OCHS Library

The sphere of emotions lies at the heart of Hindu religious experience. Numerous ancient Indian texts dwell on the complex sphere of human response to various revelations of beauty and divine presence in the world whether expressed in the material form, through sound, devotional poetry or realized on stage in theatrical performance. The arrangement of the ritual and the adoration of gods was itself deeply rooted in the field of emotional engagement and presupposed a very nuanced system of possible reactions and feelings of the devotees from a mere contemplation via an ecstatic state of rasa to the experience of supreme love towards a personal god (bhakti). This conference is the first attempt to analyze this complex way of human interaction with the divine in Hinduism based on various forms of emotional engagement, which is not limited to the contemporary and profane understanding of senses. The papers presented at the conference will cover a wide range of topics and approach the general theme of religious empathy from different perspectives: material culture, textual evidence, literature, ritual, sacred imagery, iconography, and theatrical performance.

Registration is essential – contact nandana@ochs.org.uk to register.

Emotional sacrifices? A closer look at the Mahābhārata’s sacrificial performances
Dr. Danielle Feller (University of Lausanne)  

Somatic Gestures as an Interface between Aesthetic and Devotional Emotions
Dr. Elisa Ganser (University of Zurich)

Threefold Theatrical Empathy: pratibhā, sahṛdayatva and sattva
Dr. Daniele Cuneo (Paris 3 – Sorbonne nouvelle)

The Empathy of Laughter: Hāsya Rasa in the Nāṭyaśāstra
Dr. Natalia Lidova (OCHS, Oxford).

Rasa: the Embodied Emotions in Contemporary Performance
Dr. Sreenath Nair (University of Lincoln).

Tanmayībhavana as Empathy: Recognizing Other as Self in Abhinavagupta's Aesthetic Vision
Dr. Sunthar Visuvalingam (Chicago)

Empathy, aesthetics, and the apsarases of Khajuraho
Dr. David Smith (University of Lancaster)

Theorising Devotion: A brief look at some lesser-known theories of bhakti-rasa
Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms, OCHS, Oxford University

The Nāṭyaśāstra as the Transnational Text
Dr. Avanthi Meduri (University of Roehampton)

Hinduism 1: Sources and Formation: Session Eight

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 1 December 2017 -
10:00am to 11:00am
Gibson Building, Faculty of Theology & Religion

These lectures offer a thematic and historical introduction to the sources and early development of ‘Hindu’ traditions from their early formation to the early medieval period. We will explore the formation of Hindu traditions through textual sources, such as the Vedas, Upaniṣads and Bhagavad-gītā, along with the practices and social institutions that formed classical Hindu traditions.