History and Civilization of Medieval India


Goals of the course:

Ancient India was an Indic Civilization; medieval and modern South Asia was Indo-Islamic.  This course goes beneath the political, cultural, and ethnic warfare of present-day South Asia to discover and assess the growth and development of this Indo-Islamic legacy.  By challenging various communalist, regionalist, and colonial postures, we suggest how Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi publics (and their well-wishers) might revise the ideologically-driven, media exploited, and socially devastating stereotypes of their medieval and early modern pasts.  

Topical Focus:

We cover Medieval Indo-Muslim civilization and political systems from the time Muslims arrived there; to Turkic invasions; the urban revolution 13-14C; major Islamic dynasties, especially the Delhi Sultanate; Indian Sufi mysticism; Bhakti mysticism; the cosmopolitan Vijayanagara Empire; the Mughals; imperial decentralizations; the rise of regional political systems; early Europeans in South Asia; establishment of English domination of the maritime provinces and hegemony over some hinterland states; beginnings of the British Raj.  

Emphasis will be on cultural and intellectual as well as political history, on major ethnic and confessional identities within India, and on the South as well as the North.  Our geographical spread is modern Afghanistan to East Bengal, and Kashmir to Ceylon, with a lecture-discussion format, student participation, audio visual materials, frequent handouts of study aids, and a free-wheeling narrative style. 

Requirements:  You may choose among the three plans below, according to your personal aptitudes;

I) One mid-term 50%   The final exam 50%

2) One map exercise 20%   One mid-term 40%  The final exam 40%

3)  One map exercise 25%  One mid-term 25%  One 10-pp. paper/report 25%  The final exam 25%

Texts and Assignments:  A photocopy packet is available at N & K Print Design on Elliewood Ave.

Catherine B. Asher and Cynthia Talbot, India Before Europe (Cambridge U.P., 2006)

Annemarie Schimmel, The Empire of the Great Mughals (London: Reaktion Books, 2004)

Richard M. Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier (Berkeley: U.C. Press, 1993)



Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts