Oberlin College and Conservatory

President’s Lecture with Paula Richman ’74

Friday, September 19, 2014 at 12:15pm to 1:15pm

Finney Chapel
90 North Professor Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

Lecture Topic: "Writing about an Epic that Continues to Speak: Banned Books, Politics, and the Academic Study of Religion"


Richman considers ethical, scholarly, and professional questions that arise when a book about a religious epic is banned by a cultural organization which claims that only one “true” interpretation of the text exists.  The Ramayana, one of Hinduism’s two-preeminent epics, whose characters and plot are known to virtually all Hindus and many non-Hindus as well, has circulated in the Indian subcontinent for more than two millennia in textual form, performances, dance, and folksongs.


Paula Richman ’74, William H Danforth Professor of South Asian Religions at Oberlin College, specializes in study of the Ramayana, a Hindu epic, and Tamil, a language spoken in south India and abroad by more than 75 million people. In addition to publishing two books on Tamil poetry, she recently completed a book on 20th century retellings of the Ramayana in Tamil.  She is most widely known in India for three edited volumes: Many Ramayanas: Questioning Ramayanas; and Ramayana Stories in Modern South Asia.  She has received a Guggenheim fellowship and several grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Institute of India Studies.

Inspired by Oberlin’s long history of noontime assemblies, the President’s Lecture was created to give the community—students, faculty, staff, and local residents—the opportunity to hear the college’s outstanding faculty members and selected alumni share their expertise and insights.

Sponsored by the Office of the President


Photograph by Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97


Administrative, Office of the President, Public Programs


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