Reading South Asia

Reading South Asia is a new program that was launched by the ISAS in Spring 2010. This program invites eminent scholars in South Asia related studies living in the Bay Area to lead a reading group in their particular field of expertise. The purpose of this program is, very simply put, to provide a means by which people with shared South Asia related intersts can gather together and learn. The focus is the South Asian region and the books for discussion are usually chosen by a consensus. The group is run as a cooperative venture between faculty and graduate students and typically meets once a month for the duration of semester.

Bazm-e-Adab: An Urdu Reading Group for Spring 2018

Bazm-e-Adab is an informal, not-for-credit Urdu reading group organized by the Urdu Studies Program and the Institute for South Asia Studies. This semester, the group will meet once a week to read a beautiful marsiya by Mir Anis commemorating the martyrdom of Hurr at Karbala (see the flyer for details). Copies of the marsiya in Urdu, along with an English translation, will be provided. Bazm-e-Adab is open to students and faculty at all levels. It is led by Dr. Gregory Maxwell Bruce, who teaches all levels of Urdu at Berkeley.

Past Sessions:

  • “[In aesthetic pleasure] what is enjoyed is consciousness itself.” (Abhinavagupta, 11th century CE) -- A Reading Group on Pre-modern Indian Literature and Aesthetic Theory (Spring 2014): Led by Professor of English, Vikram Chandra and Doctoral candidate, Luther Obrock, this group will investigate India’s rich tradition of literary criticism, aesthetic theory, and linguistics through primary texts. Readings will include literature (including Aśvaghoṣa, Kalidāsa, Bhavabhūti) and theory (including Anandavardhana, Abhinavagupta, Jagannātha). Meeting times: Thursdays, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm (First Meeting: Thursday, February 13, 2014) in Wheeler 306. To be added to the group’s bSpace site or for more information, please contact Vikram Chandra ( or Luther Obrock (
  • Books that Cross Disciplines (Spring 2009): Led by Barbara Metcalf, the eminent scholar and leading authority on the history of South Asian Islam.
  • New Thinking about Indian Civilization (Spring 2010):  Led by eminent Political Scientists. Susanne Rudolph and Lloyd Rudolph.
  • Afghanistan (Spring 2011): Led by Melanie Gadener, a doctoral candidate in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley,  this reading group included sessions chaired by leading schoalrs in this region, such as Dr. Siddieq Noorzoy, Emeritus Professor of Economics, from the Department of Economics, University of Alberta, Canada whose publications on Afghanistan stretch over four decades from the 1970's to the present, Dr. Sandra Cook, Co-Chair of the Louis and Nancy Hatch Dupree Foundation for the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University and Ambassador Chinmoy Garekhan, India’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
  • Diwan-e Ghalib (Fall 2011 session): Led by SSEAS graduate student Ali Hassan, this group meets every week on Monday from 1 to 2 pm in the CSAS Conference Room. The group plans to go through Ghalib's Diwan of Ghazals in order. Every week Ali Hassan will bring one or two ghazals and the group will go through them, couplet by couplet. The group is open to non-native speakers and copies of the poems will be made available in Nastaliq, Devanagri, and Roman scripts.