American Philosophical Society
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405. History and Philology, East and West, through the 17th Century[X]
1Name:  Dr. David Dean Shulman
 Institution:  Hebrew University
 Year Elected:  2015
 Class:  4. Humanities
 Subdivision:  405. History and Philology, East and West, through the 17th Century
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1949
I was born in Waterloo, Iowa (1949) and grew up among the fields, and under the vast open skies, of the Midwest. In 1967 I moved to Israel because I had fallen in love with the Hebrew language and wanted to live where it is spoken. In the course of my B.A. years I fell in love with another language, Persian, and with its classical poetry. I went on pilgrimage to the graves of Sa'di and Hafez in Shiraz. From Iran I drifted, without premeditation, eastward to India. At SOAS I was trained in Tamil by my guru, John Ralston Marr, and in South Asian studies generally and in Sanskrit by Wendy Doniger, Peter Khoroche, J. E. B. Gray, and Tuvia Gelblum. My dissertation focused on the mythology of the great Tamil temples as embodied in a large literature of classical sthalapurāṇas. Since 1976 I have been teaching Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and South Asian cultural and religious history at the Hebrew University. Ever restless, I wanted to learn another south Indian language and was drawn into the magnetic field of force of Velcheru Narayana Rao, the doyen of Telugu studies in this generation. In 1982-1983 I studied with him at the University of Wisconsin. Slowly Telugu became the center of my work, and Andhra, a second home. Narayana Rao and I have collaborated on many books on Telugu literature and the cultural history of Andhra Pradesh. I have also worked closely with Sanjay Subrahmanyam together with Narayana Rao (Symbols of Substance, 1992 and Textures of Time, 2002) and with my colleague in Jerusalem, Don Handelman (two books on south Indian Śaivism and fieldwork on the goddess Gangamma at Tirupati and the Golden Goddess, Paiditalli, in Vizianagaram). Of the various books I have written, I am most proud of the monograph documenting the seventeenth-century ceiling paintings at the Tiruvarur temple in Tamil Nadu, since these paintings were in grave danger of being lost through neglect and erosion (they have now been carefully conserved through the last-minute intervention of a team lead by Ranvir Shah of Chennai). The book offers a complete photographic record of these masterpieces, by V. K. Rajamani, the finest art photographer in South India. My enduring passion is for Indian classical music, both in the northern Hindustani-Dhrupad style, which I have studied with Osnat Elkabir, and in the south Indian Carnatic tradition. I am working on a series of essays on Carnatic compositions. In recent years I have become fascinated with Kūṭiyāṭṭam, the last living tradition of Sanskrit drama and one of the classical performing arts of Kerala. Together with my Sanskrit and Malayalam students and with colleagues from Germany, particularly Heike Moser of Tuebingen, I have had the privilege of watching full-scale performances - ranging from 12 hours to 150 hours - of the main repertoire of major troupes in Mūḻikkuḷam and Kiḷḷimangalam, in central Kerala. I hope to complete a book on these performances sometime soon. I am also a grass-roots peace activist in Israel-Palestine, concentrating mostly on the area of the south Hebron hills, where we have been able to make a difference in the lives of the Palestinian farmers and herders living under the harsh conditions of the Israeli Occupation. My experiences there are recorded in Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine (University of Chicago Press, 2007).
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