Terry Lectures to explore ‘manipulation of religion’ in ancient India

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Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, will deliver this year’s Dwight H. Terry Lectures at Yale.

Doniger, who is also in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and serves on the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, will deliver three lectures exploring “The Manipulation of Religion by the Sciences of Politics and Pleasure in Ancient India.”

Her first lecture, on Oct. 7, is titled “The Politics of Sexuality in Ancient India,” and will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Henry R. Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Ave. This will be followed by a lecture on “Glossing Anti-Dharma with Dharma” on Oct. 9 at 4:30 p.m. in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, 63 High St. Her final lecture, “How Widespread Was Skepticism in Ancient India?” will take place on Oct. 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the Luce Hall auditorium. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Doniger’s research and teaching revolve around two basic areas, Hinduism and mythology. Her courses in mythology address themes in cross-cultural expanses, such as death, dreams, evil, horses, sex, and women; her courses in Hinduism cover a broad spectrum that, in addition to mythology, considers literature, law, gender, and zoology.

She is the author of almost 40 books, including Siva: The Erotic Ascetic,” “The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology,” “Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts,” “Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities,”Tales of Sex and Violence: Folkore, Sacrifice, and Danger in the Jaiminiya Brahmana,” and “Other Peoples’ Myths: The Cave of Echoes.”Among her translations are three Penguin Classics –– Hindu Myths: A Sourcebook, Translated from the Sanskrit” “The Rig Veda: An Anthology, 108 Hymns Translated from the Sanskrit,” and “The Laws of Manu” (with Brian K. Smith) — as well as a new translation of the “Kamasutra” (with Sudhir Kakar), and “Hinduism,” for the Norton Anthology of World Religions.

The Dwight H. Terry Lectureship was established in 1905 by a gift from Dwight Harrington Terry of Bridgeport, Connecticut, to endow a series of lectures on religion and its application to human welfare in the light of scientific knowledge and philosophical insights. The lectures are published in book form by Yale University Press. Previous Terry lecturers have included Carl Jung, Margaret Mead, Rebecca West, Peter Singer, Marilynne Robinson, and Terry Eagleton. 

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