12th Classical Tamil Summer Seminar in 2014

Organised by Eva Wilden at the Centre of the École française d'Extrême-Orient in Pondicherry, 4th to 29th of August 2014

CTSS 2013

In 2014 we will have time once more to devote a full month to our 12th CTSS. This time we will try out yet another version of schedule. The last pandit has left the EFEO, at the proud age of 90 years, and with him the traditional way of teaching, with its traditional claims of authority, is gone. We are going through a phase of experimentation before we can settle on a new, satisfactory formula. The day will be split into three reading sessions of equal length that will be devoted to selected texts from different genres of Tamil literature. Classes will be presided over by experts (young and old, Indian and Western) who provide the material and present their work and view of the chosen text, but emphasis will be laid on the discussion in the forum. The goal will not be to arrive at a single "correct" translation, but rather to explore the different possibilities of understanding, based on commentary or argument. In accordance with the general philological outlook of the EFEO, work will not only proceed from the current editions but will included manuscript material photographed by our lab, or in the case of inscriptions photographs and estampages.

The first week will continue our reading of a literary text from the oldest part of surviving Tamil poetry, from the Caṅkam corpus, namely the Neṭunalvāṭai, with hundred-eighty-eight lines the second shortest among the ten long songs of the Pattuppāṭṭu. This session shall be conceived as a round-table meeting of the Caṅkam project[insert link to page], an occasion for its members to read together and discuss various issues of method and editorial procedure. Of course colleagues and students will be welcome to add their insight and voice their questions. The second and third week will be devoted to a text that has long popped up ever and again in our discussions, the Pāṇṭikkōvai, probably the first surviving representative of the important Kōvai genre, one of the few genres to remain alive right into the 19th century. Transmitted only as a collection of illustrative stanzas within Nakkīraṉ's commentary on the second great poetological treatise of the Tamil tradition, the Kaḷaviyal alias Iṟaiyaṉār Akapporuḷ, it is at the same time the junction between the earlier classical tradition of the Caṅkam and the later Bhakti corpora, and an panegyric poem of the Pāṇṭiya dynasty, often dated after the king it is supposed to glorify. The fourth week, finally, will dare an experiment in taking up the rarely read Nīlakēci, a Jain didactic poem narrating the story of the demoness Nīlakēci, dated to the late first millennium. The particular challenge is the commentary by Camayativākarar, written in a highly Sanskritised form of Tamil that might be described as Jaina Maṇipravāḷam.

Programme

The working day will be divided into three reading sessions for the advanced students, two in the morning and one in the afternoon, the first two interrelated in that one of them is devoted to a text while the second takes up its commentary. The first session will last from 9.30-11.00 a.m., the second from 11.30 a.m.-1 p.m. (with a coffee break in between), the third session from 3-4.30 p.m., followed by a tea break. Each text will be read and discussed line by line, in detail, and contributions and suggestions for alternative translations will be welcome. It will be up to each participant to decide whether he/she wants to take actively part in all three sessions or whether they prefer to skip one or the other in order to have the time to prepare for the texts that interest them most.

Beginner's Class

The beginners will start early in the morning with a grammar class from 9-10.30 a.m. For the rest of the morning they will have personal preparation time. In the early afternoon, they will have a text class (3-4.30 p.m.) up to the tea break.

 

Evening Lectures and Concerts

Twice a week in the early evenings there will again be the customary evening lectures, an occasion to invite outside experts, but also time for participants to present their current work to the group. We hope also to be able to maintain our concert tradition on Friday evenings...

 

Who can participate?

As usual, we look forward to welcoming back former participants. Anybody with at least a basic knowledge of the Classical language will be most welcome. We would also like strongly to encourage Indian students to participate in our classes (and for them there will be specially reduced fees).

Apart from the advanced seminar there will be a beginners' level, provided there is a minimum number of five people who wish to attend it. Beginners please register before the end of May 2014 so that we can do some planning.

For further inquiries contact Eva Wilden: wilden.eva@gmail.com

 

Organisation

Practical organisation rests, as ever, in the hands of the secretary of the EFEO centre in Pondicherry, Mrs Prerana PATEL (preranapatel@efeo-pondicherry.org). Please contact her for any practical question. A fee will be levied (300/200 Euros for international scholars/students (negotiable in case of need), or of 1000 rs. for Indian students). As the EFEO is currently having to adjust to a tight budget, we would appreciate being able to calculate more precisely the number of people likely to be expected. We have therefore drawn up an application form which has to be filled up and sent to the address above as soon as possible, at the latest, however, by the end of June 2014.

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