[2018-19 UofT South Asian Religions Reading Group] Andrew Ollett’s Language of the Snakes concluded by a masterclass and a lecture featuring the author

“Language of the Snakes” traces the history of the Prakrit language as a literary phenomenon, starting from its cultivation in courts of the Deccan in the first centuries of the common era. […] The opposition between Prakrit and Sanskrit was at the center of an enduring “language order” in India, a set of ways of thinking about, naming, classifying, representing, and ultimately using languages. As a language of classical literature that nevertheless retained its associations with more demotic language practices, Prakrit both embodies major cultural tensions – between high and low, transregional and regional, cosmopolitan and vernacular – and provides a unique perspective onto the history of literature and culture in South Asia.” (Quoted from the dust jacket).

In four sessions, from October to February, the group will read and discuss this new and groundbreaking monograph. For a more in-depth understanding of the text, each section of the book will be complemented by sources – such as translations from the Prakrit and key secondary literature – generously selected and recommended by the author. The reading group will culminate in an additional fifth meeting featuring a master class led by Andrew Ollett and will conclude in the evening of the same day with a lecture delivered by the author.

Place: Munk School of Global Affairs, Devonshire Place 1, room N023
Dates: Oct. 19; Nov. 23; Jan. 18; Feb. 15

Time: 10-12

Masterclass: March 8, 10-12, Munk School, room N023
Lecture: March 8, 4-6, Munk School, room N208
Conveners: Christoph Emmrich & Srilata Raman
Snacks and refreshments will be served.

This reading group may be of particular interest to those students aiming at participating in RLG465 “Readings in Buddhist Texts: The Ashokan Inscriptions” offered in spring 2019 (also as a graduate course), which will include an introduction to inscriptional Prakrit.

For further information please write to christoph.emmrich@utoronto.ca.


Christoph Emmrich
Associate Professor, Buddhist Studies
Director, Centre for South Asian Studies
at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs
Chair, Numata Program UofT/McMaster
University of Toronto


Department for the Study of Religion
University of Toronto
Jackman Humanities Building, R.203
170 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8, Canada
+416.978.6463 (o), +416.978.1610 (f)

Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS)
Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs
North Building, R.106
1 Devonshire Place
Toronto, ON M5S 3K7, Canada
Tel.: (416) 978-6463


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