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Literatures of SSEA


Admission requirements

Not applicable.

Course description

This course is an introduction to the literary cultures of South and Southeast Asia: texts and their connections to cultural and historical contexts. We attend to classical as well as modern literature, oral as well as written texts, manuscripts as well as printed books and magazines, to India and surrounding countries as well as Indonesia and Southeast Asia in general.

We will address a wide range of questions regarding, among other things: nineteenth and twentieth-century literature in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, and English; the spread and continual adaptation of the classical epics Ramayana and Mahabharata in South and Southeast Asia; the oral performance of traditional narratives and modern poetry in Indonesia; and contemporary popular literarure in Indonesian. Underneath this varied set of themes, this course remains focused on the interaction between texts and the social, political, and religious environments in which they are composed, recited, read, heard, and discussed.

The study materials of this course consist of two kinds of texts: scholarly and literary ones. In preparation of each class meeting, students read one to three scholarly articles or chapters about that week’s theme and one or more short literary texts (in Dutch or English translation). Prior to each class, students prepare an assignments. Alongside the class meetings, in the course of the semester students independently read one longer literary work (in translation). This work is selected in consultation with the instructors.

Course objectives

  • fundamental knowledge of and insight into the literatures of South and Southeast Asia and their past and present cultural position;

  • fundamental knowledge of and insight into current scholarly debates about South and Southeast Asian literatures;

  • training of analytical skills with regard to questions of literary culture by means of critical analysis of scholarly studies on South and Southeast Asian literatures

Time table

See website


Lecture/seminar course (Hoor-/werkcollege)

Assesment method

  • Weekly assignments (40% of overall mark).

  • Presentation about the longer literary work read by the student (10% of overall mark).

  • Written exam at the end of the course (50% of overall mark).


Blackboard serves as the primary means of communication about the course between instructors and students outside class meetings. Registration for the course on Blackboard is essential.

Reading list

Readings are to be announced later.
The readings must be studied prior to the class in question.


Registration via uSis obligatory.
Registration in Blackboard is obligatory


Prof. Dr. B. Arps