November 26, 2010
This month a new strategy was piloted for engaging school pupils with Sanskrit. Twenty Year 10 pupils were invited to Somerville College to participate in a drama workshop on the theme of story-telling. This formed the main activity in a day organised by the Widening Participation team during which students doing their GCSEs (end of school exams) are encouraged to think about what they want to do next and what the experience of university would be like.
The children had a morning session during which they heard about a range of different Arts and Humanities subjects that they could pursue at A-level (post-16) and university, and watched a range of material that showed the many different theatrical, literary, narrative, cinematic, animated and dance performance techniques for telling stories. They then listened to a selection of traditional animal fables (selected from CSL texts and Patrick Olivelle’s translation of the Pañcatantra) and were put into groups to work on ones of their own. Each group had to think of an issue which was important to them on a global, local or school level, consider the keys characters in this issue and then present it through the medium of a traditional Indian animal fable using a mixture of methods for story-telling inspired by what they had watched.
In the afternoon they made masks to represent their respective animals and prepared their performances, finishing by showing their group plays and reflecting on the value of story-telling in all cultures and the different ways of achieving this within and across the cultures of the world.
As with the previous Outreach activities, this one-day workshop proved very popular with the students and clearly broadened their horizons by introducing them to Indian culture and literature.
November 26, 2010
UNIQ is an Oxford Outreach enterprise that offers students from state schools across the UK the chance to experience a free one-week summer school. This takes place with different groups over three weeks, inviting hundreds of students who have shown themselves to be talented and dedicated regardless of the obstacles faced by many being from under-funded and under-privileged schools. The weekly sessions presented alternative university subject options reflecting the interests expressed by the students in attendance each week.
The Clay Sanskrit Library project was kindly invited to participate in these summer schools by offering a talk each week to different groups of students about why they might want to consider areas like Sanskrit and Indian Literature for study at a university level. The talks included:
- Sanskrit and the Indo-European Languages (intended for students considering modern foreign languages)
- Indian Religions through Art (an alternative approach to Art History or Theology)
- Introduction to Classical Indian Literature (presenting literature and history beyond the European framework)
These sessions proved to be extremely successful and students left them to go and investigate the possibility of studying Sanskrit at the Oriental Institute immediately after. In fact, we have been invited back to participate at the UNIQ Summer School next year and hopefully will see more and more applicants making Sanskrit their first choice!
November 26, 2010
Pupils from both St James Boys’ and Girls’ Schools visited Oxford at the end of June and start of July to find out more about studying Sanskrit and Indian Literature at Oxford, as well as having the rare opportunity to see and handle some of the oldest Sanskrit manuscripts in the Bodleian Libraries’ collections.
St James Schools are unique in the UK for being the only schools to offer Sanskrit on their curriculum. As well as taking the language at a primary and secondary level, pupils have the opportunity to sit GCSE and even A Level exams in the language putting them in a very privileged position where Sanskrit Studies is concerned. The Boys’ School group were Year 9s and the Girls’ School Year 11s, both of whom have been thoroughly enjoying the texts they have worked on so far.
The pupils also had an opportunity to meet with Dr Jim Benson and find out more about the kinds of opportunities that would be open to them if they continued their study. This is the first time the Clay Sanskrit Library project has brought a school group to the Bodleian for such an experience and one we hope to have again in future, with the St James Schools and others.
November 26, 2010
The CSL project had its very first schools activity programme at Exeter College promoting the field of Sanskrit Studies to pupils from a variety of schools from South-West England. The residential visit gave the tenty sixth form students an opportunity to see and experience life at an Oxford University college, as well as learn something new about the diversity of subjects available to them at university, in this case Sanskrit.
As well as introducing them to the diverse kinds of literature from Ancient India written in Sanskrit and the many disciplinary routes which could be pursued in this area of study, they completed an exercise in trying to match different translations of a passage from the Mahābhārata, the great Indian Epic, to the period in which the translations were made, from the nineteenth century through to the Clay Sanskrit Library publications.
The session went extremely well and showed the students how the many cultural, historical, religious and linguistic issues involved in studying other civilisations have influenced the translation of Indian literature over the centuries.
We hope there are many more equally successful Outreach ventures to come.
May 5, 2010
Things are progressing well with arranging the donation of the complete sets of the CSL – many institutions have now been contacted and responses are coming in fast.
We have also had a very positive response from public libraries in the UK, some of whom have already expressed an interest in hosting events for the local community to present and discuss the texts and their importance.
We will be making more updates about both of these, and our other plans, as they develop…
April 26, 2010
We have now launched a page on the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford website. This gives mroe detail about the project, its activities, and the volumes available in the Clay Sanskrit Library series. Click here to visit us at the Bodleian page.
Don’t forget, we also have our page at www.claysanskritlibrary.org and you can now find us on Facebook.
April 23, 2010
This new blog will be keeping people up-to-date on all the latest news and activities at the new Clay Sanskrit Library project.
The Clay Sanskrit Library is a series of Sanskrit-English parallel texts covering a wide range of genres and selects some of the finest exempla of the Classical Indian literary corpus.
Based at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, this project will be working to distribute and promote the collection across the globe. We will be organising an academic conference later this year to be hosted by Wolfson College, Oxford at which translators for the collection will be presenting papers on a variety of interesting themes and topics that arose through their work. We will also be organising many different activities with schools, public libraries and practitioner communities to promote the relevance of the literature to modern audiences.
We will also be donating 50 complete sets of the Clay Sanskrit Library to universities and public libraries with a vested interest in South Asia and Indian literature, culture and religion.
As well as this blog, you can keep track of all our activities over the coming months on Facebook or at our page on the Bodleian Libraries website.
Keep checking in with us for all the latest news.