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:

My profile on panditproject.org (a prosopographical database for South Asian intellectuals and their works) and GitHub.

I no longer update my academia.edu profile, since it is a for-profit company loaded with advertisements.

Publications

Books

Lilavai by Kouhala

Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2021.

The Prakrit romance Lilavai, an early ninth-century poem attributed to Kouhala and set in modern-day coastal Andhra Pradesh, is the most celebrated work in the genre. Complexly narrated in the alternating voices of its heroines and heroes and featuring a cast of semi-divine and magical beings, it centers on three young women: Lilavai, princess of Sinhala (today’s Sri Lanka); her cousin Mahanumai, princess of the mythical city Alaka; and Kuvalaavali, Mahanumai’s adopted sister. Following a prophecy that Lilavai’s husband will rule the earth, the princess happens upon a portrait of King Hala of Pratishthana and immediately falls in love. While journeying to meet him, she hears her cousins’ tales of their lost loves, and then vows not to marry until they are reunited. To win Lilavai’s hand, King Hala journeys to the underworld, faces monsters, and overcomes armies.

Lilavai explores themes of karma and female desire, notably privileging women as storytellers. A new edition of the Prakrit text, presented in the Devanagari script, accompanies a new English prose translation.


open access cc-nc-nd

Language of the Snakes: Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India

University of California Press, Oakland, 2017.

This book is open access and published under a Creative Commons license. You can download it.


Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India

South Asian edition. Published by Primus Books, New Delhi, 2018.

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.

Articles

Reviews

Talks

Teaching

Content

Languages

I also regularly run reading groups in Middle Indic (Prakrit, Ardhamagadhi, Apabhramsha, Gandhari, etc.) at the University of Chicago.

Other

Julie Hanlon and I have taught a Workshop on the Brāhmī Script (December 2020) that covered inscriptions, coins, and manuscripts from roughly the 3rd c. BCE to the 2nd c. CE, covering the Sanskrit, Middle Indic, and Tamil languages. Contact me for the materials if you’re interested.

Resources

These are research-related resources I am involved with building, curating, or maintaining. The data is usually hosted on GitHub. For educational resources related to Sanskrit, see my Sanskrit website, which has a list of related resources and an index of meters.

If you would like to contribute to any of these resources please get in contact with me.