Associate Professor of Religion
Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religion
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.
REL3936 Bollywood Film, Gender, and Religion
A critical overview of the popular cinema, dubbed “Bollywood,” produced in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India in the Hindi language. Focus is on gender issues and religious themes in Indian culture as reflected in Bollywood cinema from Independence (1947) to the present day, with some attention to transnational contexts. Readings and lectures on Indian film studies, culture, and aesthetics provide a background for analysis of selected films. Special attention is given to the pervasive role of music, dance, and song. Required weekly film screening and lecture/discussion. No previous knowledge of Indian culture or cinema is assumed.
REL4359/5354 Hindu Ethics, Human Rights, and Social Justice in India
This seminar explores continuities and discontinuities between traditional texts and practices in the Hindu tradition and contemporary social justice and human rights issues in India. To what extent is the category of Dharma compatible with contemporary understandings of human rights? How are everyday moral decisions of Hindus related to traditional religious authority? Readings include such ancient scriptures as the Laws of Manu, early 20th century writings by reformers such as M.K. Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar, and contemporary writings by activists such as Amartya Sen, Narendra Jadhav, and Madhu Kishwar, as well as ethnographic and historical studies. Issues to be considered include the caste, women’s rights, religious communalism, ecology, identity politics, and globalization. Students discuss common readings and present research on topics of their own choice.
REL5915 Sanskrit Texts
Readings in Sanskrit religious literature. For continuing students only. Permission of instructor required.
SKR4102/REL5937 Elemenatary 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 the spoken languages of modern India such as Hindi, Marathi, and Bengali. Sanskrit is for those interested in the cultures and religions of South Asia, for those interested in ancient languages, and for those wanting to experience a language that is exquisitely beautiful and logical at the same time. This is the first semester of a two-semester course and presumes no previous background. The course introduces the Sanskrit language through the Devanāgarī script, emphasizing reading, writing, grammar, and oral recitation.
REL3337 Goddesses, Women, and Power in Hinduism
This course explores ways in which the "divine" and "female" are interrelated in the Hindu tradition, using sources such as sacred texts, ethnography, history, art, and film. Students become familiar with the myths, rituals, and iconography of the major Hindu goddesses, images and roles of women, and the concept Śakti (creative female power), which is integral to the Hindu worldview. Students develop writing, analytical, and interpretive skills in relation to Hinduism, goddesses, and gender issues through individual and collaborative learning activities. No previous background is required. Note: There will be several required films, which will be screened on selected Wed. nights at 6:30 PM.
REL4359/5354 Imagining India
This seminar is an exploration of various ways in which India has been "imagined," including indigenous, foreign, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, secular, colonialist, Orientalist, nationalist, post-colonialist, diasporic, and cosmopolitan perspectives. Sources will include religious texts, history, travel literature, fiction, memoir, art, and film. The course runs on a seminar format with active and in-depth discussion of common readings, weekly response essays, and individual research projects. . There will be several required films, which will be screened on selected Wed. nights at 6:30 PM. Permission of the instructor is required.
SRK5237 Intermediate Readings in Sanskrit II
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. After completing the final lessons in the Devavanipravesika textbook, students increase their speed and confidence in reading Sanskrit texts of increasing difficulty. Writing, grammar, oral recitation, and pronunciation are also emphasized. This is the first semester of the second year course. For continuing students only. Permission of instructor required.