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Lecture to explore women and law in ancient India

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Lindsey Hadlock

Scholar Stephanie W. Jamison will speak on “Adulterous Woman to Be Eaten by Dogs: Women and Law in Ancient India” as a part of the University Lecture Series. The talk, Sept. 21 at 4:30 p.m. in Cornell’s Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall, is free and open to the public.

“Stephanie Jamison is one of the foremost scholars of ancient India in the world today,” says Michael Weiss, Cornell professor of classics and linguistics. “Her talks always feature clarity, abundant wit and penetrating intelligence.”

Ancient Indian archaeological and visual art materials containing women are scarce, and there is also a shortage of ancient Indian texts such as public records and letters, which have been beneficial in examining women in other ancient cultures. Jamison will outline textual sources about women and law that are available and how these sources can be used to study women.

The lecture will also explore an apparent paradox found in the texts: as women seem to receive more “agency,” the texts appear increasingly misogynistic. Jamison will highlight this discrepancy with an analysis of adultery and some of the more “colorful” punishments meted out to adulterers.

Jamison is professor of Asian languages and cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work focuses on Indo-Iranian, Sanskrit and Middle Indo-Aryan languages and text, as well as on the literature, poetics, religion and law, mythology and ritual, and gender studies of these languages. She is the author of five books and has written more than 80 articles about India, Iran and Greece.

In collaboration with Joel P. Brereton of the University of Texas, Austin, Jamison has translated the “Rig Veda,” the oldest Sanskrit text, into English. “This monumental achievement is the first complete English translation of the Rig Veda in more than 100 years and will be the standard for years to come,” says Weiss.

Jamison’s lecture is sponsored by the Department of Linguistics.

Anna Carmichael '18 is a communications assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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