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China and India: Comparisons and Connections

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A three-week institute for thirty school teachers comparing historical and cultural developments in China and India.

The project co-directors, historians Kristin Stapleton and Roger Des Forges (both University of Buffalo) and Ramya Sreenivasan (University of Pennsylvania), state that "Chinese and Indian histories are often analyzed in terms of theories that originated in the West, such as the Marxian stages of communal, slave, feudal, capitalist, and socialist/communist society or the Weberian stages of traditional, early modern, modern, and (today) post-modern society." This institute takes place on the University of Buffalo campus, and, they explain, "interrogate[s] these theories and question[s] their Eurocentric and teleological implications" such that it will be difficult for participants ever again to generalize about "Eastern," "Asian," "or even "East Asian," "Chinese," South Asian," or "Indian" experience, values, and practices. Week one begins with an overview of the history and literature of China from the early development of Chinese civilization to the post-Mao period. Morning lecture/discussion sessions are combined with afternoon presentations on Chinese literature, visual and performing arts, language, and traditional crafts, and an evening performance of Chinese opera. The first half of week two is taken up with discussions of twentieth-century Chinese literature and film and contemporary issues and challenges in China. On Wednesday, Asian religion scholars Jeannette Ludwig and Mark Nathan (both University of Buffalo) compare and contrast the religious belief systems of China and India, including the historical developments of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, and Sikhism. The rest of the week is devoted to the history of the Indian subcontinent from the earliest known civilization in the Indus River Valley through the colonial era, independence, and the latter half of the twentieth century. Most of week three is devoted to Indian history and culture, including the partition of British India, with Michael Fisher (Oberlin College) discussing the creation of independent Pakistan. Key readings (some of which have been assigned before the start of the institute) include Patricia Ebrey, Cambridge Illustrated History of China and Chinese Civilizations: A Sourcebook; Thomas Trautmann, India: Brief History of a Civilization; Stephen Hay, Sources of Indian Tradition, Vol. 2; and Ramachandra Guha, India after Gandhi. Participants also read various first-hand accounts, sacred writings, government documents, newspaper reports, poetry, and fictional prose, and view film clips. Careful attention throughout is paid to the use of institute materials in teaching the language arts, history, and social studies. Participants maintain a daily journal and draft lesson plans to be discussed during the last week of the institute.

Faculty: Michael Fisher, Walter Hakala, Nicholas Kaldis, Wai-Yee Li, Mark Nathan, Natalie Sarrazin

Dates: July 1—19 (3 weeks)
Director(s): Kristin Stapleton and Roger Des Forges, State University of New York, Buffalo, and Ramya Sreenivasan, University of Pennsylvania
Grantee Institutions: State University of New York, Buffalo
Location: Buffalo, NY

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.