Call for papers for 2017 Symposium

We invite proposals for papers for the 42nd Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, which will be held at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, on 7th-9th April 2017, with the theme “Appearance and Reality”.

Throughout the history of Indian thought we find explorations of the distinction between those things that are real in the fullest sense, and those to which only an illusory or apparent existent can be ascribed. Submissions will engage with this distinction as it is understood in the context of South Asian religion, philosophy, and intellectual history more generally. We welcome papers based upon any and all research methods, including textual, historical, ethnographic, sociological and philosophical.

Presenters are allocated forty minutes for their paper and twenty minutes for discussion, and will normally be expected to pay their own conference registration and expenses. The Symposium fee, including food and accommodation, will be £190, with a non-residential rate of £80. Registration details will be sent separately. Limited financial assistance may be available for early career scholars or scholars from South Asia. If you are unable to access institutional funds for your conference fee please contact the Treasurer, Dr Nick Swann (nick.swann [AT] southwales.ac.uk) to enquire about available support.

We also welcome proposals from doctoral students, who will be allocated twenty minutes for their paper and ten minutes for discussion, and offered free registration at the Symposium. Postgraduate papers need not address the Symposium theme.

We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers for the Symposium: Dr Anne MacDonald (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna) will give a paper entitled ‘Real Illusions, Illusory Realities: Appearance and Reality in Mahāyāna Buddhism’, and Professor David Gellner (University of Oxford) will speak on ‘The Politics of Religious Affiliation in Nepal’.

If you would like to give a presentation, please send a title and abstract (maximum 500 words) to Dr Jan Westerhoff at jan.westerhoff [at] lmh.ox.ac.uk by 31st October 2016.

Report on the 41st Symposium

Spalding2016The 41st Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions was held at St Michael’s College, Llandaff, and hosted by Drs Simon Brodbeck and James Hegarty of Cardiff University. The theme was “narrative”, and the papers ranged from the portrayal of animals in biographies of the Buddha to the competing narratives of M. A. Jinnah’s nationalist vision.

The keynote speakers this year were Professor Phyllis Granoff (Yale University) and Professor Rupert Gethin (University of Bristol). Professor Granoff opened the Symposium with a paper exploring narratives of conversion in early Buddhist and Jain scriptures. The paper spoke to some of the key themes that ran through the whole weekend, including the role of stories in religious teachings, the relationship between narrative and doctrine, and the ways in which narrative gaps or slippages invite further investigation. On the second day of the Symposium, Professor Gethin presented his exploration of how the narrative frames of early Buddhist suttas of the Dīgha Nikāya inform our reading of the – often formulaic – doctrinal renditions therein, again speaking directly to the question of how narrative and doctrine inter-relate.

In addition to the two keynote speakers, there were ten excellent papers by scholars from as far afield as Vancouver and Delhi, and three postgraduate speakers also offered work-in-progress papers, giving us a window into emerging research in the field. A special mention must be made of the very thought-provoking after-dinner paper delivered by Professor James Laine (Macalaster College) about the controversial response to his 2003 book on the 17th century Maratha king Shivaji, which included a temporary ban in Maharashtra and an attack on the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune. We also particularly enjoyed hearing from our two visitors from Miranda House at the University of Delhi, Drs Saswati Sengupta and Sharmila Purkayastha, who gave a rich and challenging portrait of colonial-era Bengal and the use of narratives of the goddess Lakṣmī to lay the blame for horrendous famines on local women.

All the papers were of high quality, and there was also an impressive level of coherence to the Symposium overall. This led to extensive discussions of common themes, including how we speak of genre, and the varied uses of narrative in teachings, conversion, entertainment, exemplification of doctrine or philosophical argument, expressing or establishing identities, drawing audiences into different worlds, and providing competing accounts of significant times, events or people.

The Symposium also benefited from the wonderful surroundings and food of St Michael’s College, and the warm and efficient hosting of Drs Brodbeck and Hegarty. Generous coffee breaks and evenings at the local pub ensured that the conversation spilled out from the papers and panels. We are grateful to the Spalding Trust for their continued support of this Symposium, which enabled us to invite our keynote speakers and offer our postgraduate contributors a free place.

Naomi Appleton (Convenor, Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions)

2016 Symposium draft programme

We are pleased to announce the draft programme of papers for the 2016 Spalding Symposium, which will be held at St Michael’s College, Cardiff, and convened by Drs Simon Brodbeck and James Hegarty of Cardiff University. Registration details will be circulated shortly.

Friday 15th April

2.00-3.15pm Registration, tea and coffee in St Michael’s College reception area

3.15-3.30 Welcome, announcements

3.30-4.30 Opening Keynote Lecture: Prof. Phyllis Granoff (Yale University) – ‘Narrating Conversion: Some Reflections on Buddhist and Jain Stories’

4.30-5.30 Dr Vijay Ramnarace (Cardiff University) – ‘Narrative Marketing: Evolving Accounts of the Miraculous Naming of a Pre-Modern South Asian Theologian’

5.30-5.45 Comfort break

5.45-6.45 Dr Brian Black (Lancaster University) – ‘Narrative Connections between the Upaniṣads and the Mahābhārata

6.45-7.45 Dinner in St Michael’s College Dining Hall

7.45-8.45 After Dinner Paper: Prof. James W. Laine (Macalester College) – ‘Good Guys and Bad Guys: Narrative Constraints and the Epic of Śivaji

Saturday 16th April

9.00-10.00 Dr David Fiordalis (Linfield College) – Framing Buddhist Narratives, Creating a Narrative World: The Hundredth Tale of the Avadānaśataka

10.00-11.00 Drs Saswati Sengupta and Sharmila Purkayastha (Delhi University) – ‘Of Famines and Females: the Politics and Poetics of Lakṣmī Bratakathās of Bengal’

11.00-11.30 Tea and coffee

11.30-1.00 Postgraduate Papers:

Sander Hens (Ghent University) – ‘From Foolish King to Rajput Hero: Reworking the Life Story of Prithviraj Chauhan during the Delhi Sultanate Period’

Noor van Brussel (Ghent University) – ‘Revenge, Hatred, Love and Regret: the Employment of Narrative Empathy in a Regional Purāṇa’

Jacek Skup (Jagiellonian University, Krakow) – ‘The Narratives of Nation Building: Nationalism, Secularism and Religion in M. A. Jinnah’s Speeches’

1.00-2.00 Lunch in the St Michael’s College Dining Hall

2.00-3.00 Dr Eviatar Shulman (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) – ‘Aśvaghoṣa’s Viśeṣaka: the Saundarananda and its Pāli “Equivalents”’

3.00-4.00 Dr Elizabeth M. Rohlman (University of Calgary) – ‘Narrative Discourse and Intertextual Engagement in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa’s Frame’

4.00-4.30 Tea and coffee

4.30-5.30 Dr Christopher R. Austin (Dalhousie University) – ‘Narrative Streams in Ravivarman’s Ocean: Theatre and Theology in the Pradyumnābhyudaya

5.30-6.30 Keynote Lecture: Prof. Rupert Gethin (University of Bristol) – ‘Narrating the Dharma: Frame Stories in the Dīghanikāya

6.30-7.15 Free time

7.15 Dinner in St Michael’s College Dining Hall

Sunday 17th April

9.00-10.00 Dr Reiko Ohnuma (Dartmouth College) – ‘Animal Doubles of the Buddha’

10.00-11.00 Dr James Madaio (New Europe College, Bucharest) – ‘Scriptural Hermeneutics and Narrative Examples in Advaita Vedānta: the Reading of Stories to Determine Dharma

11.00-11.30 Tea and coffee

11.30-12.30 Dr Adheesh Sathaye (University of British Columbia) – ‘The Cultural Power of Proverbial Verses within the Prose Tales of Śivadāsa’s Vetāla Collection’

12.30-1.00 Closing discussion

1.00-2.00 Lunch, followed by departure

Call for papers: 2016 Symposium

We invite proposals for papers for the 41st Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, which will be hosted by Cardiff University at St Michael’s College, Llandaff, on 15th, 16th and 17th April 2016.

The theme this year is ‘narrative’, by which we mean written or orally transmitted accounts of event that are real or fictive. This could include topics ranging from the narrative portions of Vedic literature to oral histories of the partition of India. Our purview includes religions of South Asian origin wherever in the world they are being practised, and those of non-South Asian origin present within South Asia. We welcome papers based upon any and all research methods, including textual, historical, ethnographic, sociological and philosophical.

Presenters are usually allocated forty minutes for their paper and twenty minutes for discussion, and will normally be expected to pay their own conference registration and expenses. The Symposium fee, including food and accommodation, will be £175, with a non-residential rate of £75. Registration details will be sent separately. In some cases financial assistance for speakers may be available.

We also welcome proposals from doctoral students, who will be allocated twenty minutes for their paper and ten minutes for discussion, and offered free registration at the Symposium.

We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers for the Symposium, and the provisional titles of their papers: Phyllis Granoff, the Lex Hixon Professor of World Religions at Yale University (‘Narrating Conversion: Some Reflections on Buddhist and Jain Stories’), and Rupert Gethin, Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol (‘Narrating the Dharma: Frame Stories in the Dīghanikāya’).

If you would like to give a presentation, please send a title and abstract (maximum 500 words) to the Convenors, Simon Brodbeck and James Hegarty, at hegartyj@cf.ac.uk, by 7th December 2015.

The 40th Anniversary Spalding Symposium

The 40th Anniversary Spalding Symposium

The 2015 Spalding Symposium, held in Edinburgh on 10th-12th April, was a wonderfully stimulating experience as always. With two excellent keynote lectures, from Professors Stephen Berkwitz and Uma Chakravarti, nine other full-length papers, and three postgraduate presentations, there was a real richness of scholarship and conversation. It was a great personal pleasure to welcome all the speakers and other contributors to Edinburgh, and there was even some sunshine!

A particularly notable part of the weekend this year was a series of reflections on the history of the Symposium, to mark the fact that this was the 40th symposium. We had a message from our founder, Professor Karel Werner, and a lively and touching set of reminiscences from our most recent Convenor, Dr Anna King. (A version of these will shortly be added to our website.) Dr Dermot Killingley, long-serving member of the committee and convenor of our 2014 symposium, followed up with some comments making clear Anna’s own contributions to the success of the Spalding Symposium over the past decade and more.

Looking ahead to next year, we have provisional dates – 15th to 17th April 2016 – and a venue in Cardiff. Simon Brodbeck and James Hegarty will be hosting the Symposium with a theme of “narrative”. Keynote speakers will be announced shortly, and a call for papers will be circulated in a few months.