The Arts of India, 1556-1658

June 23 - July 1, 2008 ~ University of Maryland, College Park


Faculty Biographies

Alles | Alvarez | Berdan | Bhagwat | Diamond | Ehnbom | Hebbar | Hiltebeitel | Johnson | Petrie |

Populoh | Sarin | Silver | Institute Directors

Printable copy of biographies

Gregory D. Alles
Religious Pluralism and Exclusivism in Mughal India

Gregory D. Alles, Professor of Religious Studies, came to McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland College) in 1987, after teaching at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) and Valparaiso University. His interests center on the religions of south Asia as well as methods and theories in the study of religions and disciplinary history. He has also taught at the University of Munich.

Widely published in English and German, he has contributed chapters to several books, and his articles have appeared in Culture and Religion, Historical Reflections/Reflexions historiques, History of Religions, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Journal of the Oriental Institute–Baroda, Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Numen, Religion, and Temenos. Author of The Iliad, the Ramayana, and the Work of Religion: Failed Persuasion and Religious Mystification (1994), he has recently edited Religious Studies: A Global View (2008) and co-edited, with Robert Ellwood, The Encyclopedia of World Religions (2nd ed, 2006).

Professor Alles is a past president of the North American Association for the Study of Religion, a recipient of an NEH research fellowship, and of a Fulbright research fellowship to India. In 2006 he was awarded the medal Centenar Mircea Eliade by the president of Romania. A long-standing member of the editorial boards of the journals Religion and Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, he also sits on the organizing committee for the upcoming Congress of the International Association for the History of Religion, to be held in Toronto in 2010. He is finishing a book on the early 20th century philosopher of religion, Rudolf Otto. Other current interests include cognitive scientific and economic approaches to the study of religions and oral literature and religion among the Rathwas, an adivasi (“tribal”) people in western India.

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Lourdes Alvarez
Hearts Afire: Sufism and Sufi Cultural Expression on the Indian Subcontinent

Dr. Lourdes Alvarez is currently Assistant Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at the Catholic University of America. She holds a PhD in Spanish from Yale University and has been awarded numerous grants including a Fulbright Senior Scholarship for research in Morocco. Her research focuses on the literary and cultural intersections between Muslims, Christians and Jews in Islamic Spain. She has published articles on Andalusian mystical poetry, on women poets of al-Andalus, on the writings of converts (from Judaism to Christianity, from Christianity to Islam, from Islam to Christianity) and translators.

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Kristina Berdan
Outreach and Support

Kristina Berdan has been a teacher in Baltimore City Schools for nine years. She graduated from Towson University’s Master of Arts in Teaching Program after earning her B.S in Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. Currently on a leave of absence from the city school system, she is devoting herself full time to the Stadium School Youth Dreamers, Inc., a non-profit organization created by some of her students in 2001. She bases most of her work on the Principles of Social Action as developed by the Centre for Social Action out of DuMontford University in England. She has attended numerous trainings with the Centre for Social Action, has done presentations about the Youth Dreamers at social action conferences, and was on an editorial team to produce a publication about teachers’ experiences with social action in the classroom (Writing for a Change: Boosting Literacy and Learning through Social Action, Jossey-Bass, 2006). She has served on the board of Youth As Resources with three other teenage Youth Dreamers, earned her National Board Certification in 2000, and received the B-More Fund Award in November 2006. She teaches artists in the Teaching Artist Institute sponsored by the Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance, Maryland State Arts Council, and Young Audiences of Maryland. She teaches teachers through the Towson University Arts Integration Institute, and she is a part-time faculty member in the MICA MA in Community Arts Program.

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Sudha Bhagwat
Kathak Dance

Sudha Bhagwat is a "Kathak" classical dance educator, trainer, choreographer and performer. Sudha began her dance training in India at the age of six with Kathak Guru Rohini Bhate, presenting her first recital at age ten. Sudha continually visits India to add to her repertoire. She has performed around the globe as a solo artist and in ensembles, (on works based on diverse Indian literary sources) including at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Performing Arts Society, Smithsonian Institution, Shakespeare Theater, Johns Hopkins University, New York Opera and Sarasota Opera Society, Heads of State, embassies, libraries, universities and schools, among others.

In addition, Sudha has conducted Indian culture and classical dance training seminars, workshops and residencies at Strathmore Hall, Peabody Institute and UMD Salisbury, and private and public schools, among others. She has collaborated with famed cellist Yo Yo Ma on his Silk Road Project.

Sudha's Kathak style is marked by vivacity, which combines techniques and elegance of the "Lucknow School" with the precision of the Jaipur School" of Kathak dance. Sudha's program brings India's mystery and majesty of over 5,000 years, through information, interaction and participation in India's culture, customs, costumes, classical dance and music.

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Debra Diamond
Keynote Address

Dr. Debra Diamond is the Assistant Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC.

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Daniel Ehnbom
Early Mughal Painting
Rajput Painting and the Mughal School

Daniel Ehnbom is adjunct curator of South Asian art at the University of Virginia Art Museum, and has been Director of the University of Virginia Center for South Asian Studies since 1997. He is the author of Indian Miniatures: The Ehrenfeld Collection (1985), a monograph on 16th century Indian painting (forthcoming), articles on painting and Indian architecture, and contributions to various exhibition catalogues. He was with The Macmillan/Grove Dictionary of Art (1996) in London as a contributor and consultant from 1984 and as South Asia Area Editor for Painting and Sculpture from 1988. His most recent publications are the articles "Painting", "Company Painting", and "Rajasthani Painting" in Frederick M. Asher, ed., Art of India: Prehistory to the Present (Encyclopedia Britannica: Chicago and New Delhi, 2003) and “A Leaf of the Qissa-i Amir Hamza in The University of Virginia Art Museum and Some Thoughts on Early Mughal Painting,” in Rosemary Crill, Susan Stronge, and Andrew Topsfield, eds., Arts of Mughal India: Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton (Ahmadabad: Mapin, Ltd., in association with The Victoria and Albert Museum and Christie’s, Ltd., [London], 2004).
Mr. Ehnbom teaches undergraduate survey lecture courses on Indian and Islamic art, and upper level undergraduate lecture courses and undergraduate and graduate seminars in specialized topics including 16th century Indian painting; early Indian sculpture and architecture; and architecture, sculpture, and painting of the Gupta Period. He has held fellowships from Fulbright, The American Institute of Indian Studies, The American Council of Learned Societies, The Weedon Foundation, the UVA Shannon Center, and the UVA Teaching Technology Initiative project.

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B.N. Hebbar

Dr. B.N. Hebbar teaches courses in the Religion Department at George Washington University and in the Honors Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. He earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in History of Religions at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, in 2000 and his Doctorate of Divinity at St. George’s University in the West Indies, in 2006.

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Alfred Hiltebeitel
Hindu Epics: Mahabharata and Ramayana

Dr. Alfred Hiltebeitel is a Professor of Religion and Human Sciences at George Washington University, in Washington, DC. He earned his Ph.D. in the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1973.

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Shelley Johnson

Shelley S. Johnson is an arts integration lead teacher in two elementary arts integration model schools in Montgomery County, MD. Prior, Shelley was an elementary art teacher for twenty-six years. In 1999, she was the Montgomery County Public School Teacher of the Year and represented the county in Maryland's Teacher of the Year program. Shelley helped write the Maryland State Voluntary Curriculum for Visual Arts and co-wrote the Adapted Art Curriculum for Special Education for Montgomery County Public Schools. For the past four years, Shelley has been a lead teacher in arts integration, facilitating co-planning with classroom teachers and arts specialists, conducting professional development sessions, and coordinating artist in residence programs. Under her leadership, Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary and Potomac Elementary received the Maryland State Creative Ticket Schools of Excellence Award, from the Kennedy Center Alliance of Arts Education Network in 2007. Both schools are nominated for national recognition which will be determined in the Fall, 2008.

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Ian C. Petrie
An Empire in Miniature: Understanding Mughal History through Art and Architecture

Ian Petrie is Assistant Professor of History at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia,where he teaches courses on South Asia, the Islamic world and comparative history. He received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. A specialist in the history of Bengal, he has conducted extensive archival research in India and Bangladesh. His research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council and the Shastri Indo-Canadian institute. His current work considers histories of technology and consumer goods in modern South Asia.

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Valeska Populoh
Picture Books: A Mixed-Media Workshop Exploring Mughal Albums
Signs of the Times: A Textiles Workshop Exploring Cultural Exchange & Appropriation

Valeska Maria Populoh is a visual and performance artist and teacher living in Baltimore, MD. She has a B.A. in international affairs from American University and a B.F.A. and M.A.T from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

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Amita Sarin
Mughal Architecture
Regional Indian Textiles

Amita Sarin is an adjunct instructor at the University of Maryland. Since 2002 she has taught survey courses on the art and architectural history of India and Asia. She regularly teaches an Honors seminars entitled “Understanding India” as well as “Sacred Architecture East and West: Churches, Temples, Stupas, and Mosques.”

Prior to this she has worked on several discrete projects on an intermittent basis with various departments and museums at the Smithsonian Institution. She served as consultant, researcher and coordinator in exhibitions at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and regularly lectured on Smithsonian study tours to India as well as coordinated several India-related seminars and lecture series for the Smithsonian Associates.

She has lectured extensively at universities, museums and other organizations on subjects ranging from sacred Indian architecture, city of Delhi, textile design history, Mughal art, the paisley motif, Hindu festivals and the epic Ramayana. She has published research on South Indian jewelry, folk bronzes, Mughal art and history, goddess iconography and South Asian folklore. She has also published a non-fiction childrens’ book on India as well as one on Mughal folklore and history.

Amita Sarin spent her formative years in India where she obtained a Masters degree at the University of Delhi. She continued post graduate education in the United States after migrating in 1974 and has been researching, writing and lecturing about India ever since.

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Brian Q. Silver
Classical Indian Music

Brian Q. Silver, after graduating from Harvard College in 1964, went to India under a Fulbright grant to learn sitar with the late Ustad Ghulamhusain Khan of the Indore Gharana (musical tradition). He returned to the U.S. in 1966, continuing his study in subsequent visits to his teacher in India, and has since appeared in concert and in radio and television broadcasts in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Europe, Great Britain, Canada, Central and South America, and throughout the United States. In 1988 he was awarded the honorary title "Khan Sahib" by the All Pakistan Music Conference, and was given that organization's 1989 gold medal for performance. In 1991, 1996, and 2004, he was recognized for his sitar artistry by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and has taught Urdu language and literature, Indian music, South Asian culture, and world and contemporary American music at the University of Minnesota, the University of Chicago, Harvard University, Duke University, and most recently at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He has also lectured at a wide range of colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad, and has written on South Asian, Iranian, and Middle Eastern music and musical culture.

In the summer of 2007, after nearly 21 years as Chief of the Voice of America's Urdu Service in Washington, he was appointed Ethnomusicologist and World Music Curator in order to work toward fulfilling new VOA priorities. He is also founder and Executive Director of International Music Associates.

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Institute Directors

James L. Tucker has been Chief of the Arts and Humanities Section of the Maryland State Department of Education for the past 24 years. In this capacity, he provides statewide leadership for curriculum and instruction in art, dance, music, and theater education. His previous professional experiences include teaching at the elementary and secondary levels, at the Maryland Institute-college of Art, Gallaudet and the George Washington Universities. Mr. Tucker has served as President of the National Association of State Directors of Art Education; Secretary and Chair of the Committee on Multiethnic Concerns, an affiliate of the National Art Education Association (NAEA); Eastern Regional Director, Administration and Supervision Division, NAEA; and Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Maryland Alliance for Arts Education. He currently serves on the boards of the Maryland Artist Equity Foundation, Maryland Music Educations Association, and is Past-President of the Maryland Art Education Association. In addition he serves on the Education Committee of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, as an advisor for Young Audiences of Maryland and the Artist-in-Education programs of the Maryland State Arts Council. Mr. Tucker is currently President of the National Council of State Arts Education Consultants, a member of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Arts Standing Committee, and the Review Panel for Art Education, journal of the National Art Education Association.

Dr. Adele Seeff is the director of the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies at the University of Maryland where she develops interdisciplinary postgraduate programming for the campus and for a national audience. She is co-editor of the Center's volume series, for which thirteen volumes are in print. She has published on Shakespeare and issues in higher education, and has written scripts for public television, two of which won national awards. In 1997 she was the recipient of the President of the University of Maryland's Award for Outstanding Work in the Schools. She also serves as Director of College Outreach for the College of Arts and Humanities


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