I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. I work on the literary and intellectual traditions of South and Southeast Asia, including:
- the philosophy of language in India, especially questions of sentence meaning and contextual meaning;
- poetics, especially including works in Prakrit and Kannada;
- the transition to manuscript literacy in South Asia;
- issues of language choice, literary multilingualism, and vernacularity;
- Prakrit literature and literary history.
My contributions on: academia.edu, panditproject.org (a prosopographical database for South Asian intellectuals and their works), and github. I also have a blog on which I sometimes post thoughts and results arising from my research.
Language of the Snakes: Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India
University of California Press, Oakland, 2017.
Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India
South Asian edition. Published by Primus Books, New Delhi, 2018.
- Interview about Language of the Snakes with Malcolm Keating on the New Books Network podcast.
Language of the Snakes traces the history of the Prakrit language as a literary phenomenon, starting from its cultivation in courts of the Deccan in the first centuries of the common era. Although little studied today, Prakrit was an important vector of the kavya movement and once joined Sanskrit at the apex of classical Indian literary culture. The opposition between Prakrit and Sanskrit was at the center of an enduring “language order” in India, a set of ways of thinking about, naming, classifying, representing, and ultimately using languages. As a language of classical literature that nevertheless retained its associations with more demotic language practices, Prakrit both embodies major cultural tensions—between high and low, transregional and regional, cosmopolitan and vernacular—and provides a unique perspective onto the history of literature and culture in South Asia.
Lilavai by Kouhala
Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2021.
- “The Prakrit Mirror of Ornaments and Bhāmaha’s Ornament of Literature.” In Jayandra Soni and Hampa Nagarajaiah (eds.), Cāruśrī: Essays in Honor of Bhaṭṭāraka Cārukīrti, 163–174. Bangalore: Sapna Book House, 2019.
- “Duty and Sacrifice: A Logical Analysis of the Mīmāṃsā Theory of Vedic Injunctions.” (with Elisa Freschi and Matteo Pascucci). History and Philosophy of Logic 40 (2019): 323-354. 10.1080/01445340.2019.1615366.
- “Making it Nice: Kāvya in the Second Century.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 47 (2019): 269–287. 10.1007/s10781-018-09378-7.
- “Sātavāhana and Nāgārjuna: Religion and the Sātavāhana State.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 41 (2018): 421–472. 10.2143/JIABS.41.0.3285748.
- “Explaining Prakrit Poetry in the 18th Century: Vrajarāja Dīkṣita’s Commentary on Hāla’s Seven Centuries.” Bulletin de l’école ançaise d’extrême-orient 103 (2018): 11–41.
- “Pālitta and the History of Prakrit Literature.” In Peter Flügel and Nalini Balbir (eds.), Jain Studies: Select Papers at Bangkok and Kyoto. Delhi: DK Publishers Distributors, 2018. Download link.
- “High-Density Expressions in The Way of the Poet-King.” Rivista degli Studi Orientali N.S. 90 (2017): 93–105. 10.19272/201703804006.
- “Ghosts from the Past: India’s Undead Languages.” Indian Social and Economic History Review 51.4 (2014): 405–466. 10.1177/0019464614550761.
- “Ritual Texts and Literary Texts in Abhinavagupta’s Aesthetics: Notes on the Beginning of the ‘Critical Reconstruction.’” Journal of Indian Philosophy 2015. 10.1007/s10781-015-9277-4.
- “Thieves in the Storehouse of Sarasvatī: Metaliterary Aspects of the Caurapañcāśikā.” Asian Literature and Translation 2.4 (2014): 1–15. Download link.
- “The gaṇacchandas in Indian metrical theory.” In Nina Mirnig, Peter Szanto, and Michael Williams (eds.), Puṣpikā: Tracing Ancient India through Texts and Traditions (Contributions to Current Research in Indology), pp. 331–363. Oxbow: Oxford, 2013.
- “What is Bhāvanā?” Journal of Indian Philosophy 41.3 (2013): 221–262. 10.1007/s10781-013-9181-8.
- “Moraic Feet in Prakrit Metrics: A Constraint-Based Approach.” Transactions of the Philological Society 110.2 (2012): 241–282. 10.1111/j.1467-968X.2012.01307.x.
- “Memorandum of Receipt of Grain by a mesites.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 177 (2011): 234–236.
- Rasa as sentence meaning. Madison South Asia Conference, 2018.
- Pālitta’s Taraṅgavatī. University of Mysore, Sept. 2018.
- How to read Hāla’s Sattasaī. Sahitya Akademi, Bangalore, Sept. 2018.
- The authors of the Sattasaī. EASAS, Paris, Aug. 2018.
- Footsteps in the dark. Oxford, April 2018.
- The Prakrit Romance: on Kautūhala’s Līlāvatī. Munich, July 2017.
- What kind of experience does narrative literature produce? UBC, Vancouver, Oct. 2017.
- Poetics at the court of Amōghavarṣa. IKGA, Vienna, July 2017.
- Classical Literature of South Asia (University of Chicago, Fall 2019): Course website. An introduction to “classical” South Asian literature, roughly covering the period from 0 to 800 CE, including texts in Tamil, Prakrit, and Sanskrit (all in translation).
- Introduction to Indian Philosophy (Columbia University, Spring 2015): Syllabus. An introduction to the major themes in Indian philosophy (epistemology, logic, aesthetics).
- First-Year Sanskrit (University of Chicago, 2017–2018): course website, with materials designed by me, including a reference grammar).
- Advanced Sanskrit (University of Chicago, Spring 2020): Mahimabhaṭṭa’s Critical Analysis of Manifestation (Vyaktivivēkaḥ).
- Advanced Sanskrit (University of Chicago, Fall 2017): Bhavabhūti’s Mālatī and Mādhava, with Pūrṇasarasvatī’s commentary (Rasamañjarī). Syllabus.
- Introduction to Prakrit (University of Chicago, Spring 2018): course website. An introductory survey of Prakrit literature, including readings from Hāla’s Sattasaī, Pravarasēna’s Rāvaṇavahaṁ, and Koūhala’s Līlāvaī.
- Readings in Apabhraṁśa (Castelldefels, Summer 2017): Abdul Rahman’s Sandēśarāsaka, read as part of an “Apabhraṁśa Retreat.”
- Digital Indology: Some resources for digital aspects of Indology, including TEI and grep, and instructions for using offline Sanskrit dictionaries with Stardict.
- Chandōrṇavaḥ (Ocean of Meters): Currently more of a puddle, but contains definitions and examples of some of the more popular meters in Sanskrit and Prakrit literature.
- Kannada verbal roots in tabular form, from Kēśirāja’s Śabdamaṇidarpaṇaṁ.