Jay Ramesh Successfully Defends his Dissertation

Congratulations to Jay Ramesh for successfully defending his dissertation. Jay's dissertation, "Abodes of Śiva," examines the history of the talapurāṇam (literally, "place-lore"), a type of medieval and early modern poem written in the Tamil language which describes the legends associated with Hindu shrines as well as the manner in which rituals at the temple must be conducted. Though such texts as written in Sanskrit are popular throughout South Asia, it was only in the Tamil speaking region that these texts were written as ornate court poetry, drawing from the long history of devotional poetry in that language. Through an analysis of the poetics of these texts, the stories that they narrate, and the historical circumstances surrounding their popularity, he demonstrates how the Tamil talapurāṇams mark a conscious and sustained effort to unite a community of devotees around a set of shrines that existed in South India by appealing to and simultaneously producing the collective memory of a distant past. His current research explores the imagination of the natural world, and of fluvial landscapes specifically, in Sanskrit and Tamil devotional literature. 

February 14, 2020