Lecture list

Trinity Term 2021

Sunday 25th April – Saturday 19th June 2021

Due to Covid Restriction and in line with University Policy all lectures and seminars will be held online. For access, please contact the convenors or lecturer by email. For access to the Hinduism 2: Modern Hinduism and Sanskrit Prelims lectures, please contact the Faculty of Theology and Religion. The Śākta Traditions lectures will be available on the OCHS YouTube channel.

Sanskrit Prelims

Week 1-4, Monday 14.00-15.30, Friday 14.00-15.30
Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen

The course provides an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper of the Theology and Religion Faculty in Elementary Sanskrit. A range of relevant Hindu and Buddhist texts will be chosen for translation and philological comment. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the essentials of Sanskrit grammar, syntax, and vocabulary and its importance for the exegesis of Sanskrit texts. Students will learn to appreciate the interpretative nature of translation as a central discipline for the study of religions. By the end of the course students will have gained a basic competency in translating classical Sanskrit and reading relevant passages from texts such as the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, the Bhagavadgītā and the Buddhist Heart Sūtra. The course book will be Walter Maurer’s The Sanskrit Language. Sanskrit Prelims continues throughout Michaelmas and Hilary Terms and for the first four weeks of Trinity.

Readings in Vedānta

Week 1-8, Wednesday 10.00-11.00
Dr Rembert Lutjeharms (rembert@ochs.org.uk)

Vedānta—theology grounded in the systematic exegesis of the Upaniṣads—has for centuries been the primary discourse for Vaiṣṇava thought. These reading sessions are intended for students who have at least an introductory knowledge of Sanskrit and are interested in Vedānta texts.

Readings in Phenomenology

Weeks 1-8, Monday 12.00-1.00
Prof. Gavin Flood

Phenomenology is one of the most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century, and it has also had a deep impact on other theoretical fields more widely conceived. This series continues the reading of Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time.

Comparative Religion Seminar

Week 1, Thursday 29th April, 11.00-12.00.
Prof. Gavin Flood

The purpose of this seminar is to begin to explore new ways of practicing and theorizing comparative religion. The comparative study of religion went into abeyance with its critique from social constructivist positions, skeptical not only of the category ‘religion’ but of comparison generally in the belief that cultural and social particularity and differ-ence needs to take precedence.  The purpose of this seminar is therefore to open up a conversation about what Comparative Religion means in the contemporary world and what its future could be, especially in relation to Theology. Oxford is in a unique position with specialist areas in Theology, Biblical Studies, and Oriental Studies to develop language-focused comparative research fields.

Arguments in Indian Philosophy: Reality, identity, scepticism, ethics

Dr Jessica Frazier (jessica.frazier@theology.ox.ac.uk)

The classical problems of philosophy are often global, attracting concerted debate across the philosophical traditions of India, Greece, and beyond. This has led to a number of novel philosophical solutions emerging over the millennia, offering some interesting challenges to modern philosophy… ‘Things’ as we know them may be dissolved into fleeting phenomena, reconceived as a single object, and become a tangle of ‘time-worms’.  Reality may be revealed as an ocean of consciousness or a seed-bed of generative powers. Compassion may grow best from the death of the ego… or happiness may become just one paint on the palette of possible values.

In these four classes we’ll look at four arguments in Indian philosophy. We will look at the topics of:

  1. Weds 28th April, 2.00-3.00. Monism: Does nothing exist… or is everything one?”
  2. Weds. 12th May, 2.00-3.00. Selfhood: What am I made of, and what does change mean for me
  3. Weds. 26th May, 2.00-3.00. Scepticism: What are the limits and possibilities of truth?
  4. Weds. 9th June, 2.00-3.00. Ethics: Can I be ethical if I am not ‘real’?

All welcome.

Śākta Traditions Lecture Series

Hinduism cannot be understood without the Goddess (Devi/Śakti) and the goddess-oriented Śākta traditions. The Goddess pervades Hinduism at all levels, from aniconic village deities to high-caste pan-Hindu goddesses to esoteric, tantric goddesses. Furthermore, tantric goddesses have played a significant role in the formation of tantric Buddhism, or what is sometimes referred to as ‘Śākta Buddhism’. Nevertheless, these highly influential forms of South Asian religion have only recently begun to draw scholarly attention. Taken together, they form ‘Śāktism’, which is considered one of the major branches of Hinduism next to Śaivism, Vaiṣṇavism and Smārtism. These lectures continue to explore this theme. 

  1. Weds. 5th May 2.00-3.00, Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen, Śaktism and Śākta Traditions Part 2’. 
  2. Weds. 19th May. 2.00-3.00, Prof. Mandakranta Bose – Divinity and Femininity – Śakti in the World 
  3. Weds. 2nd June, 2.00-3.00, Prof. Harunaga Isaacson, TBA
  4. Weds. 16th June, 2.00-3.00, Dr Silje Lyngar Einarsen TBA