HIST 259



O Sadhu! my land is a sorrowless land.
I cry aloud to all, to the king and the beggar, the emperor and the fakir,
Whosoever seeks for shelter in the Highest, let all come and settle in my land!
Let the weary come and lay his burdens here!
—Kabir (1440-1518), translated by Rabindranath Tagore

In the great books of India, an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent; the voice of an old intelligence, which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the questions that exercise us.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

ANCIENT INDIA was an Indic civilization, but medieval and early modern India became Indo-Islamic. In this course we will assess the development of this Indo-Islamic legacy as we trace the shaping and reshaping of the Indian subcontinent from the classical civilizations of late antiquity to the rise of British colonialism at the end of the eighteenth century.

No understanding of the history of India during this period is possible without an appreciation of the idea of empire. During these centuries, India was ruled by a series of geographically and chronologically overlapping empires and regional states, each with its own distinct characteristics but all of them exhibiting some commonalities as well. This course begins with the empires of late antiquity and India's "golden age." We will then examine the great Indo-Islamic empires of North India from the arrival of Islam through the sultanates and dynasties of medieval India and the rise and decline of the Mughals. We will also focus on the growth of a variety of regional political systems throughout the subcontinent. Among these were the kingdom of Vijayanagar, the Deccani sultanates, the Sikh states of the Punjab, Portuguese mercantile settlements, and the Maratha Confederacy. Finally we will focus on the various European East India companies and the origins of British colonial domination over India. Our approach will be comparative, but we will also look at the particular circumstances under which each of these polities developed.

This course will emphasize political, cross-cultural, and social history. It will also focus on the historical antecedents of contemporary debates about South Asia's regional and religious identities. What were the legacies of classical Hinduism for Indo-Islamic civilization? How did Hindus and Muslims coexist for centuries before the modern era? How did India's pre-colonial empires succeed in ruling such vast and diverse areas? How did they fail? What impact did the first contact with Europeans have on India's intellectual, cultural, and economic development and how thoroughly were foreign influences Indianized? And finally, why and how did India's political structures and economy eventually fall under the control of British colonialism? We will keep these and other questions in mind as we examine the historical development of India in the "Age of Empire."

Readings for this course will combine historical scholarship with literature and primary source documents from the period. We will also pay considerable attention to the magnificent artistic and architectural achievements of the age. Students are encouraged to view all of these sources as historical texts and to consider broader questions about the nature of South Asian and non-South Asian societies and their interaction with each other. Through the critical study of history, we encounter ourselves, and the world in which we live, in new and interesting ways.

This is an introductory course for which there are no prerequisites. Students from all disciplines are welcome.

David Campion
Pamplin Associate Professor of History
Miller 409 | MSC 41

Lewis & Clark College
0615 SW Palatine Hill Road
Portland, Oregon 97219 USA

Tel: 503.768.7435
Fax: 503.768.7418
Email: campion@lclark.edu

Class Hours:
MWF 9:10-10:10
Miller 210

Office Hours:
MW 10:15-12:15
(or by appointment)
Miller 409

Course Requirements

Schedule of Classes

Assignment Guidelines

Map Exercise

India Film List

Indian History Online

Prof. Campion's Other Courses

Top (left to right):
Golden Temple at Benares; Raphael Tuck & Sons, c.1910
Calligraphy on the Qutb Minar, Delhi, 13th century
Natraj (Lord Shiva), Bronze, Chola Dynasty, South India, c.11th century
Thomas and William Daniell, The Taje Mahel, Agra, aquatint, 1801 © British Library
Shah Jahan enthroned, c.1630 © Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bottom (left to right):
Pelkhor Chode Monastery, Gyantse, Tibet
The Calcutta Esplanade, c.1800, Allom & Radclyffe, steel engraving; James S. Virtue Co., London, 1858
Hava Mahal ("Palace of the Wind"), Jaipur, 1799
Dutch and Portuguese warships outside of Goa; Joan Blaeu, Atlas Maior, Amsterdam, 1672

Created by campion@lclark.edu | Updated May 2016