Anna Lise Seastrand on Re-visioning the Sacred Geography of Early Modern Tamil Nadu

4:30–6:30 pm
Chennai: Roja Muthiah Research Library

Mar.
13

Representations of landscape in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century South India proliferated not only in landscape paintings and maps, but also in courtly poetry, histories of sacred sites, and pilgrimage literature produced in this highly dynamic period.  These representations further coincided with a renewed interest in Tamil Bhakti poetry.  The centrality of the representation of landscape is seen not only in painting, but also in poetry, pilgrimage, and ritual movement. This plurality demands that an understanding of the paintings move from simple identification of subject matter to consideration of what it means to represent place. This talk explored how visual, oral, and written texts themselves re-visioned the sacred geography of early modern Tamilnadu.

Anna Lise Seastrand specializes in the art, history, and languages of southeastern India. She earned her PhD in Art History with Departmental Distinction at Columbia University in 2013. Her reseach program is informed by a deep interest in the histories and politics of language and identity, as well as the relationships between texts and images. She is at work on a book manuscript, Muralspace: Painting in the South Indian Temple, that uses South Indian temple murals to engage broadly with the phenomenology of paintings within sacred and ritual spaces, particularly focusing on notions of physical and sacred landscape, pilgrimage, iconicity, and performance. She has taught courses on South Asian art for Columbia University and Skidmore College, and teaches Media Aesthetics in the core curriculum at the University of Chicago.