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Gautam, Sanjay K.

Associate Professor


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research overview

  • Professor Sanjay K. Gautam is an intellectual and cultural historian of South Asia, with a focus on India. He received his M.A. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Professor Gautam's research interests include the history of aesthetics, gender, and sexuality in ancient India, the history of yoga, postcolonial theory and literature, and the history of warfare in modern South Asia. His first book 'Foucault and the Kamasutra: The Courtesan, the Dandy, and the Birth of Ars Erotica as Theater in India (University of Chicago Press, 2016)' is the first serious reading of the iconic Indian text, the Kamasutra in its relationship with Michel Foucault's work on the history of sexuality in the West. By entwining together Foucault’s works and the classical Indian text, Professor Gautam transforms our understanding of both, even as he opens up new ways of investigating erotics, aesthetics, gender relations, and subjectivity.



courses taught

  • HIST 1518 - Introduction to South Asian History to 1757
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019 / Spring 2020 / Spring 2021 / Fall 2022
    Introduces the history of South Asia, providing a general acquaintance with the narratives and interpretations of ancient and medieval history of the Indian subcontinent from the rise of the Indus Valley Civilization in 3500 BCE to the end of the Mughal Empire in 1757 CE. Intended for students with little or no prior knowledge of the region.
  • HIST 2220 - History of War and Society
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2023
    Focuses on war and society in a variety of global contexts. Explores the character, origins, and social, political, and intellectual impacts of war in contexts ranging from several centuries of international conflict to the experience of individual nations in specific wars. Topic varies in any given semester; contact Department of History for details.
  • HIST 3020 - Historical Thinking & Writing
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    The second cornerstone course for history majors centers on the essential skills all historians use. Students will advance their reading, sourcing, and research techniques, hone critical, analytical, and synthetic skills, navigate scholarly discourse, and practice historical writing. As this simultaneously satisfies the College's upper-division writing requirement, all sections involve substantial, regular, and varied writing assignments as well as instruction in methods and the revision process. All topical variations of this course are limited to a maximum of 18 students in order to focus on supporting students as they learn to write - and think - like an historian. Topics will vary by section. Recommended for sophomores or juniors, HIST 3020 may be taken concurrently with, but not prior to, HIST 1800. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours.
  • HIST 3109 - Seminar in Asian History
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018
    Capstone seminars are designed for advanced history majors to pull together the skills they have honed in previous courses. This seminar focuses on Asian history, and will include readings and discussions in a small seminar setting. In relation to the course topic, students will develop an individual research project and write a substantial and original paper based on primary sources. Previously offered as a special topics course. Recommended restriction: History GPA of 2.0 or higher.
  • HIST 3800 - Seminar in Global History
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2023
    Organized around themes that change year to year, this seminar allows students to explore and research processes, phenomena, and events of global significance in historical context. Stress will be upon subjects that span multiple world areas. Possible topics include: the international arms trade; slavery; health and disease; youth culture; women's rights; genocide. See department for current theme. Recommended restriction: History GPA of 2.0 or higher. May be repeated up to 6 total credit hours.
  • HIST 4538 - History of Modern India
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2023
    Examines the history of India from the British conquest of India in the late 18th century to independence in 1947. Emphasizes the impact of British rule on the political, economic and social development of modern India. Recommended prerequisite: 6 hours of any history coursework. Same as HIST 5538.
  • HIST 4558 - Buddha to Gandhi: A History of Indian Nonviolence
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Spring 2020 / Spring 2021 / Fall 2022
    Focuses on the intellectual history of nonviolence in India from the time of the Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi who led India to national independence from the British Empire in 1947. Pursues this history in light of the encounter between Indian and western cultural traditions in modern India.
  • HIST 4800 - Special Topics in Global History
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020
    Organized around themes that change yearly, this class allows students to study and research processes, phenomena, and events of global significance in historical context. Will stress historical subjects that span multiple geographic regions of the globe. Topics could include the global history of: the arms trade; slavery; health and disease; youth culture; women's rights; genocide, the environment, migration, economic trade, warfare exploration etc... May be repeated up to 9 total credit hours.
  • HIST 7119 - Graduate Research Seminar in Asian History
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018
    Prepares students for research in historical documents in Asian languages in order to write a substantial original research paper based on primary and secondary source materials. Recommended requisite: background in Asian history.


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