Prof. Ruth Vanita
Prof. G.G. Weix
SSEA courses are taught in a variety of departments including English, World Literatures and Cultures, Anthropology. See upcoming courses.
The University of Montana-Missoula offers students an opportunity to minor in the interdisciplinary South and Southeast Asian Studies (SSEA) Program. Students will study South and Southeast Asian peoples, cultures, histories, societies, as well as their literary, artistic, and religious traditions. The minor encompasses the regions of South and Southeast Asia, including the states of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, East Timor, and the Philippines.
The University of Montana-Missoula offers students an opportunity to minor in the interdisciplinary South and Southeast Asian Studies (SSEA) Program. The minor requires 18 credits (six courses) and can be combined with any major. We offer a number of exciting courses, on topics ranging from Bombay cinema (Bollywood) to gender to the Bhagavad Gita.
Fulfill your General Education language requirement by studying Hindi in Fall 2021. Spoken Hindi is the same as Urdu, and it is therefore the second-most widely spoken language in the world. US Dept of State lists Hindi as a critical language. Several summer and all-year scholarships are available to study Hindi further in India.
An SSEAS minor can help you work in many fields, such as business, journalism, diplomacy, and computer science.
South and South-East Asia is a region of growing economic and political importance in the world today. Traces of ancient civilizations are still visible here in vibrant modern cities that are hubs of technology and business. In the minor, you will study South and Southeast Asian peoples, cultures, histories, societies, as well as their literary, artistic, and religious traditions.
South and Southeast Asia includes India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, East Timor, and the Philippines.
We have faculty from several departments, including Anthropology, English, and Political Science teaching courses that count towards the minor. Several of our students have gone on to travel, study and teach in India.
If you think you already have courses with SSEA content that might count towards this minor, please contact us and we can help you complete the minor.
Author: Ruth Vanita
Preparations for King George the Third's fiftieth birthday gala are in full swing in Lucknow. As poets and performers vie to be part of the show, Chapla Bai, a dazzling courtesan from Kashi, briefly enters this competitive world, and sweeps the poet Nafis Bai off her feet. An irresistible passion takes root, expanding and contracting like a wave of light. Over two summers, aided by Nafis's friends, the poets Insha and Rangin, and Sharad-himself in love with a man-exchange letters and verses, feeding each other the heady fruit of desire.
Publisher: Penguin (2020)Link to Purchase Publication
Phone: (406) 243-5793
Office: Liberal Arts Room 146 A
I am teaching remotely. Email me for an appointment on Zoom
Co-director, South & South-East Asian Studies
SSEA202X Introduction to India
LIT520 Oscar Wilde: Life and Work
LIT319E Talking to God: the Bhagavad Gita. Fulfills the Gen Ed Ethics requirement
LIT326 Stories East and West
SSEA202X Introduction to India
LIT 327L Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century English Fiction
LIT329 Fathers and Daughters in Western Literary Traditions
WLC328L Gender and Sexuality in Indian Cinema
LIT246L . Intro to Literature
LIT 327. Shakespeare
Educated entirely in India, Prof Vanita lived and taught there for many years. She is married, with one son. Her first novel, Memory of Light, appeared in 2020 from Penguin. She divides her time between Missoula, Montana, and Gurgaon, India.
Ph.D. Delhi University, India
History of Ideas; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Hindi and Urdu literatures; Hindu philosophy; British literature (Shakespeare; the long nineteenth century)
Selected Articles in Journals;
Selected Chapters in Books
The first book to show how the figure of the courtesan shapes the modern Indian political, religious and erotic imagination.
On Gender, Sex and the City:
This book explores the urban, cosmopolitan sensibilities of Urdu poetry written in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Lucknow, which was the center of a flourishing Indo-Islamic culture. Ruth Vanita analyzes Rekhti, a type of Urdu poetry distinguished by a female speaker and a focus on women's lives, and shows how it became a catalyst for the transformation of the love poem.
"The book belongs to my favorite genre, where the translations, excellent as they are, push the reader toward tasting the 'original.'' - Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, series editor (with Hosam Aboul-Ela) of Theory in the WorldOn Love’s Rite:
This absorbing new book…offers a marvelously global perspective characterized by profound historical understanding, impeccable scholarship, and a rare and delightful precision of feeling.
- Terry Castle, Prof, Stanford University
On Sappho and the Virgin Mary:
The story of Mary is that she conceived her son immaculately, an autonomous creation without the intervention of a human male. This Marian ideal of feminine independence, suggests Ruth Vanita in her brilliant book, is one basis for the vast number of independent, unmarried female characters in British fiction. The poetry of Sappho, the direct antecedent of the confessional Romantic lyric, is the other. ... This well-researched, erudite survey shows how present lesbian dynamics have been throughout English literary history.
Ruth Vanita's Sappho & the Virgin Mary is an eloquent refutation of the conventional theoretical association of lesbianism with cultural invisibility. ...Vanita demonstrates that love between women has long constituted an enabling, enriching and ubiquitous component of the literary imagination for female and male authors alike. ... Intrepid, sophisticated, and worldly."
- Corinne Blackmer
Summer 2017 Franklin research grant to work on manuscripts in London Libraries
2015-16 Visiting Scholar, South Asia Centre & Centre for Film and Screen, Cambridge
2014 Featured in Vogue India (October 2014) “The Power of 50: 50 Women
2009 Delivered the Spalding Lecture on Indian Religions, Oxford University2007-08
2007-08 Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship
2003-04 ACLS-SSRC-NEH Senior Research Fellowship
2004 One of ten women worldwide interviewed on film for the Global
Feminisms Project at the University of Michigan
1997-present Ten Merit Awards at the University of Montana for teaching,
scholarship and service
1994-95 Fellow at the Society for Humanities, Cornell University
Visiting Professor, Center for Disciplinary Innovation & South Asian Languages & Civilizations, University of Chicago
Associate Professor in English, Graduate School, Delhi University India
Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor, Miranda House College for Women, Delhi University
Founder co-editor of Manushi, India's first nationwide feminist magazine, 1978-91
Lecturer in English, Miranda House College for Women, and Reader, Department of English, Delhi University, 1976-1997.
Department of English
World Literatures and Cultures
Reading, conversation, movies
Dr. Akbar Hyder, Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, will give a Zoom talk on Ghalib, India’s best-known Urdu-language poet, with his translations of Ghalib’s poetry. On Sunday, February 28, at 7 p.m. Mountain Time. For the link, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr John Hawley, Prof of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University will deliver an illustrated lecture, “Krishna Devotion in Poetry, Painting and Performance Today” on 26th October at 5 p.m. on Zoom.
Free and open to the public.
For an invitation link, please email:
Brown Bag Seminar guest lecture on Kashmir given by the Hindi Fulbright Fellow Ms. Ekta Gupta, doctoral candidate at Lucknow University, on May 31st at the Central and Southwest Asian Studies Center in Stone Hall.