Classical Sanskrit poetry in translation

Course Dates: 17/01/20 - 07/02/20
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street

Come and discover some of the masterpieces of classical Sanskrit poetry (kavya) in English.


What is the course about?

This course has two primary aims: first, to offer a general overview of the historical trajectory of Sanskrit literature; second, to introduce a few masterpieces of classical Sanskrit poetry (kavya) in English translation, paying attention not only to their original contexts of production, but also to the history of their reception in the West and in India.

What will we cover?

The first session will be dedicated to a general introduction to Sanskrit classical poetry, while each of the following three sessions will focus on a specific literary genre or theme. Special attention will be paid to texts that have been often translated, retranslated and ‘mis-translated’ (or rather, ‘re-imagined’) into English over the last two centuries: in fact, although the course does not presuppose any knowledge of Sanskrit, the tutor will occasionally draw attentions to the diction of the Sanskrit original and compare it with the various English renderings that are available to the contemporary reader.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Show some familiarity with the masterpieces of classical Sanskrit poetry;
- Develop an aesthetic appreciation for classical Sanskrit poetry;
- Sharpen your sensitivity to the differences in various English translations of classical Sanskrit poetry;
- Show an understanding of the contexts of production and reception of classical Sanskrit poetry;
- Show some familiarity with the historical trajectory of Sanskrit literature;
- Show an understanding of the significance of classical Sanskrit poetry against the backdrop of the literary cultures of South Asia as well as of World Poetry.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is open to everyone; since the four sessions will be delivered in English, you will need to be able to understand and engage with oral instructions, written texts and group discussions in this language.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Each session will include a traditional lecture-style presentation given by the tutor and some class discussion, during which students will be able to ask questions, comment on the topic(s) of the lesson and suggest further issues to discuss during the following session(s).
At the end of each session, the tutor will present a brief list of readings related to the main subject of the following session; the students are strongly encouraged to prepare at least some of the suggested readings, so as to make the most of the frontal lectures and class discussions.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no additional costs or texts to buy: the tutor will provide both printouts and PDFs of the suggested readings.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

If you are interested in embarking on the study of the Sanskrit language, City Lit offers Sanskrit courses for absolute beginners (i.e. “Sanskrit level 1: module 1” and “Sanskrit: an introduction for absolute beginners at the British Museum”).

Tutor Biographies
Maddalena Italia Tutor Website

Maddalena’s love for dead languages began at the Egyptian Museum of Turin, where as a child she would pretend-translate hieroglyphic inscriptions for the amusement of her mother – and the annoyance of her younger brother. Although she studied Greek and Latin at school, it wasn’t until her university years in Milan that she succeeded in deciphering her first inscription in what she thought was the most exciting ancient language – Sanskrit. It was because of Sanskrit that in 2011 Maddalena moved to London, where she completed a Master’s degree and a PhD in South Asian studies (SOAS). As she delved into Neo-Latin commentaries and translations of Sanskrit verses for her thesis, she realised that she still missed reading the Classics. Thus, Maddalena started teaching Greek and Latin at City Lit, where she feels she is constantly reminded why she embarked on a Classics degree more than a decade ago. What’s more, in 2018 she started a pilot Sanskrit course at the British Museum (in partnership with City Lit), which allows her to teach the rudiments of the language while sharing her passion for South Asian manuscripts and miniature paintings.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: RT434

Fri, eve, 17 Jan - 07 Feb '20

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Full fee: £59.00
Senior fee: £59.00
Concession: £36.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2644

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.