Professors Tim Keirn and Eileen Luhr Receive the Endowed Faculty-Student Research Program

February 28, 2012

During fall 2011, with the support of the Endowed Faculty-Student Research Program established by Dr. Dee Abrahamse, Professors Tim Keirn and Eileen Luhr, both from the Department of History, taught the interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate seminar “Western Encounters with India” (C/LA 496A/596A). The course built on themes developed in an earlier seminar, taught by Keirn and Professor Norbert Schürer of the Department of English, which culminated in the publication of an edited volume British Encounters with India (Palgrave, 2011). In the course, students explored the encounters between India and the West since the eighteenth century using sources that ranged from Orientalist and British East India Company texts to Kipling’s Kim, exposés on Indian gurus, and accounts of the Beatles’s visit to the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In weekly discussions, students sought to locate forms of cultural hybridity that resulted from encounters between India and the United States and Britain.

A January short-study abroad course to India allowed these students to delve more deeply into the country’s history. While in the north, students learned about the history of the Mughal Empire. Highlights included trips to Delhi’s Red Fort, Humayan’s Tomb, a heritage tour of Old Delhi, and a visit to the Taj Mahal. A visit to Lucknow University allowed for interaction with Indian students. The itinerary then took the students to southern India, where students toured Mysore and Srirangapattana as well as sites associated with the late eighteenth century rule of Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan. In Kochi, students again witnessed examples of the Indian encounter with other cultures, including Syrian Christians, Chinese mariners, and Portuguese, Dutch and British merchants and imperialists. Finally, students relaxed on an afternoon boat tour through Kerala’s backwaters that set the background for a reading of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. Students reflected on their trip through final research papers or lesson plans based on their experiences in India.

Dr. Dee Abrahamse, former CLA Dean and interim CSULB Provost, donated a generous gift to the College of Liberal Arts that created the Endowed Faculty-Student Research Program within the College and ensured the existence of this project in perpetuity. The Faculty-Student Research program was founded in 2005 to bring faculty from different fields in the humanities and social sciences together to study a significant interdisciplinary issue with undergraduate students who produce original research.

Center: Professors Tim Keirn and Eileen Luhr