Indira Peterson, David B. Truman Professor of Asian Studies and Five College Fortieth Anniversary Professor, will be the keynote speaker at a July 10 conference at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.
The conference, "Art and Literature at the Thanjavur Maratha Court: A Confluence of Cultures 1674- 1855," brings together a host of prominent scholars on South India. Peterson was also chief academic coordinator for the conference.
Her keynote address is titled "A Home for Sarasvati in South India: Cosmopolitanism, Learning, and Literature at the Thanjavur Maratha Court."
Peterson has extensive expertise in the languages, literatures, and cultural history of South India and the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom in the 17th-19th centuries. In addition to several articles on these subjects, she has completed a monograph, "Serfoji II of Tanjore: Enlightenment, Modernity, Cosmopolitanism," the first intellectual biography of a pioneer of Indian modernity, the polymath King Serfoji II of Tanjore, which will be published in 2011.
Her keynote will highlight the artistic and literary achievements of the Court and will examine in detail the texts produced under the Maratha scholar-kings, and show, according to Peterson's abstract, "how the Marathas brought together diverse languages and cultures, text and performance, the sciences and the arts, court and temple, folk and elite, and modernity and tradition in Thanjavur."