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Online Program Book
In-person sessions begin with an A-prefix (i.e., A20-102), whereas Virtual sessions begin with an AV-prefix (i.e., AV20-102)
All Times are Listed in Central Standard Time (CST)
Theme: Alf Hiltebeitel's Legacy and the Literary-Critical Method
Saturday, 5:00 PM-6:30 PM (Virtual)
This session of the Seminar approaches the Mahābhārata as a literary work, inspired by the literary turn Alf Hiltebeitel’s research took some two decades ago. Our first paper surveys Hiltebeitel’s work on the Mahābhārata as a text and as the center of devotional and performative traditions. The paper focuses particularly on his most recent work, including a book currently in press that offers a new interpretation of the text emphasizing the centrality of adbhuta rasa (the motif of wonder or astonishment). Our second paper highlights ways in which the text engages in metalepsis, intentionally blurring the distinction between reality and fiction, and argues that it is precisely the unreal or fantastic aspects of the Mahābhārata ... where the greatest philosophical and literary theoretical work of the epic is being done. Our third paper focuses on the Drona Parva (Book 7), one of the books narrating the war, demonstrating that it is a narrative shaped by a theology centered on Brahman, with profound meanings embedded in the action. This session demonstrates some of the many ways scholars are deepening our understanding of the Mahābhārata.
Theme: Multifarious Mahābhārata Methods
Sunday, 5:00 PM-6:30 PM (Virtual)
This session of the Seminar approaches the Mahābhārata in a variety of ways. Our first paper finds a coherent philosophical theme of monism in the text, explaining the manifestation of the world from Brahman through the concept of vyakti, or emergence. Our second paper examines versions of the Mahābhārata created in the Jain religious tradion, beginning with the 8th century Harivaṃśapurāṇa and its depiction of the repentance of Kīcaka, who becomes a Jain monk. Later Jain reinterpretaons of the text take varying approaches to this character whose depiction in Vyāsa’s text is entirely evil. Our third paper explores the geography of the Mahābhārata, its mundane landscape, the sacred sites visited by its heroes, and the religious geography of the text’s audience who seek to visit sites made sacred by the events in the narrative. The diversity of methods on display in this session demonstrates some of the many ways scholars are deepening our understanding of the Mahābhārata. The Seminar invites and encourages methodological and interpretive creativity.