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Kathleen Erndl

Associate Professor of Religion

Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religion
Research Areas: Hindu Goddesses, Women in Hinduism, Hindu-Muslim Interactions, Indian Cinema and Religion

Department of Religion
641 University Way / P.O. Box 3061520
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1520
Office: 313 Dodd Hall
Email: kerndl@fsu.edu
Office Hours: Mon. 1:30-2:30
Thurs. 3:00-4:00 & by appointment



Kathleen M. Erndl (Ph.D. '87, University of Wisconsin, South Asian Language and Literature: Religions of South Asia) teaches in the field of South Asian religions, especially Hinduism, as well as gender and religion, popular Hindi cinema, and Sanskrit. Professor Erndl's publications include Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual and Symbol (Oxford, 1993), a co-edited collection of essays entitled Is the Goddess a Feminist? The Politics of South Asian Goddesses (New York University Press and Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), and articles on Sakta traditions, spirit possession, women's religious expressions, methodology, and gender issues in Hinduism. She is currently writing a book entitled The Play of the Mother: Women, Goddess Possession, and Power in Hinduism. Other research interests include interactions among Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists in India, cross-cultural appropriations of Indian goddesses in North America, Hinduism in the Caribbean, and Bollywood. Professor Erndl has been the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hayes, and the American Institute of Indian Studies.


Recent Publications

Erndl, Kathleen M. (2013) "Woman Becomes Goddess in Bollywood: Justice, Violence, and the Feminine in Popular Hindi Film," Journal of Religion & Film: Vol. 17: Iss. 2, Article 1.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/jrf/vol17/iss2/1

Recent Courses

Fall 2014

REL3337             Goddesses, Women and Power in Hinduism 
Female power in Hindu cosmology, mythology, and society.  A study of Hindu goddesses, women and female symbolism and the multifaceted relationship among them. 

RLG5915                Sanskrit Texts  

RLG5937                Special Topics    

Summer 2014

REL2315        Religions of South Asia (Online)
Overview of religions in the South Asian cultural region, emphasizing Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Islam.  The history and cultural contexts of these traditions will be explored with particular attention to sacred stories, holy people, religious leadership, and gender issues. This course also serves as an introduction to the academic study of religion. No previous background is required. Students will gain familiarity with the basic concepts of the religious traditions of South Asia, will develop interpretive skills in the academic study of religion, and will have the opportunity to develop research and writing skills by exploring a topic of special interest.  Meets Liberal Studies Humanities and Multicultural X requirements. (Online)

Spring 2014

REL4335/RLG5332   Modern Hinduism
Is there such a thing as Hinduism?  If so, what is it?  How has it changed, and where is it going in the future?  This course explores selected topics in 19th, 20th, and 21st century Hinduism, including popular religion, thinkers, reform movements, gurus, nationalism, gender issues, secularism, and pluralism.  Emphasis is on Hinduism in the social, political, and religious context of India, with some attention to transnational Hinduism and Hindu-inspired religious movements in North America.  Also considered will be notions of “modernity” and “post-modernity” as ideologies or “states of mind” and how these have interfaced with Hinduism.  Course objectives are: 1) to explore issues in modern Hinduism in more depth than is possible in an introductory course through extensive reading and discussion, 2) to analyze these issues in class discussions and weekly response papers, and 3) to research topics of interest related to the course themes and to present this research to the class, both orally and in writing.  Prerequisite: REL 2315 (Religions of South Asia) or a course on Hinduism (such as REL 3333 or 3337) or on the history or anthropology of India. Graduate students in Religion are exempt from this prerequisite.  Meets  Multicultural X requirement.

Fall 2013

REL3333                 Hindu Texts & Contexts:  Ramayana
This course introduces the Hindu tradition through the Ramayana, one of its most popular and celebrated sacred texts.  The Ramayana, also known as the Rama-katha (story of Rama), narrates the exile of Prince Rama, who is accompanied into the forest by his wife Sita and brother Laksmana.  After Sita's abduction by the demon Ravana, Rama, aided by his monkey-ally Hanuman, must go to battle to rescue her.  But this skeletal summary cannot begin to do justice to the many tellings of Rama-katha that have been composed, recited, sung, written, performed, danced, portrayed in art, and have influenced political events throughout India, Asia, and beyond.  In this course, we explore primarily the most well- known literary version, composed in the Sanskrit language by the ancient poet Valmiki, as well as the now classic 1980s televised Hindi language serial version directed by Ramanand Sagar, though we also consider other versions.  Focus on the Ramayana leads to analysis of broader religious, philosophical, aesthetic, and political themes in the Hindu tradition and Indian culture. Film is an integral part of the course; there will be several Ramayana-related feature length films screened on Tuesday nights throughout the semester.  No background in either the Ramayana or in Hinduism is presumed.

REL4359/RLG5354               India:  Myth, Map, Image
This course explores multiple ways in which India has been” imagined”, for example, as a sacred landscape, as a goddess (Bharat Mata/Mother India), and as a modern nation, through the practices of mythmaking, pilgrimage, mapping, boundary-making, migration (of people and images), and politics.  Readings include studies in the religions (especially Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam), histories, geographies, cultures, arts, and literatures of South Asia, focusing on the question “What (or who) is India?” Film is an integral part of the course; there will be several feature length films screened on Tuesday nights throughout the semester. In keeping with seminar format, students take turns leading discussion on weekly readings and present individual research projects orally and in writing.  
Prerequisite: For undergraduates, previous coursework on religions or history of India.  For graduates, no prerequisite.

SRK5236                       Intermediate Sanskrit I   
Sanskrit, known as the “language of the gods", is a classical language of India and scriptural language for Hinduism and Buddhism.  As a member of the Indo-European linguistic family, it is related to Greek, Latin, and English, as well as to languages of modern India such as Hindi, Marathi, and Bengali.   This is the third semester of Sanskrit.  Building on skills learned in the first year, students will increase their speed and confidence in reading Sanskrit texts of increasing difficulty.  Writing, grammar, oral recitation, and pronunciation are also emphasized.  For continuing students only; permission of Prof. Erndl is required.