Humans fill our world with visual signs that carry meaning. Some may be instantly legible, some are deliberately disguised (think of viagra ads), and some are unintentionally obscure because they now work across great distances of time or space. This course on the Art & Architecture of India teaches students ways to cross those distances and become visually literate in some South Asian contexts. As a Sophomore Residential Seminar, this course lets students cross those distances in actuality, exploring in person the monuments they study during the Fall.

For decades now, students taking this course have asked me why we were not getting on a plane at the end of the term to look at the monuments we were studying. They feel that they have come to know so much about the objects and yet that they do not really know them at all. Photographs cannot capture the spatial realities of architecture, the colors of wall frescoes, the identification with the human forms this sculpture so vividly invites. Thanks to the SRS program, we finally get to take that journey.

The work we have been doing together this Fall has explored current debates about primitivism, religious conflict, gender, power, colonialism, and stereotypes. Class conversations and individual research topics have involved cultural critique, compassion, and self-reflection. This kind of thinking is helpful preparation for the learning, surprise, anxiety, and joy we are likely to experience in India.   Experiencing those together should help us forge community together.

Mumbai Itinerary

January 07 to 08: Travel to Newark to Mumbai.

January 09: Sightseeing and shopping in Mumbai.

January 10: Visit the Elephanta Caves, and flight to Aurangabad.

January 10 to 15: Five day stay in Aurangbad with vists to muliple local sites.

January 11: Ajantha Caves.

January 12: Ellora Caves.

January 13:Ellora Caves.

January 14: Pitalkhora Caves.

January 15: Elora Caves or Aurangabad Caves and Bibi Ka Maqbara (if time permits); flight back to Mumbai.

January 15 to 17: Two day stay in Bandra.

January 16: Sightseeing and shopping in Bandra; travel to airport.

January 17: Travel to Mumbai to Newark.