#TSFC (The Strategies For Comparison, January 28, 2017):

Is anything isolated? Is comparison essential? Does the entire cosmos consist of a structure of relationships? When comparing, must we think in terms of similarity rather than difference? Is comparison a fundamental way of dealing with complexity in the world? Do you write in a third language? Why is Persian metaphorical (& more so for the non-native speaker?)? Does one have to negotiate the terms of comparison before comparing? Does this depend on the ‘operation’ one is looking to carry out? Is a plane (say) an analytic as well as an algebraic as well as a geometric object, among others; How? Can everything be translated? What, then, is distinct? Do homogenized monadic structures interact in just two ways (war or dialogue)? What happens in the liminal spaces? How does one get to bārahmāsa in Persian poetry? Can one get from anywhere to anywhere using ‘atlas of charts’? Is it possible that objects in the same family do not share any property (but may share a context)? Is the emphasis on similarity likely to have a homogenizing tendency? Is the future in the past? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from topology/mathematics (Dr. Jayadev S. Athreya, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington), culture theory & philosophy (Prof. Anil Bhatti, JNU, New Delhi), & Persian/Indian literatures (Prof. Sunil Sharma, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TSFC show.

Dr. Jayadev S. Athreya (geometry, dynamical systems) is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and the Founding Director of the Washington Experimental Mathematics Lab (WXML) at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. His research focuses on geometry and dynamical systems, in particular, studying time evolution of simple physical systems using a technique known as renormalization. His work lies at the intersection of many different areas of mathematics, including geometry, ergodic theory, number theory, and topology. Through the WXML, he provides a platform for undergraduate students and community members to get involved in mathematics research through experimentation, 3D printing, and other activities. Dr. Athreya completed his B.Sc. in Mathematics from Iowa State University, USA, & then went to University of Chicago to do his Masters & Ph.D. in Mathematics. He has earlier held teaching positions in Illinois, Yale & Princeton Universities. He has published widely in numerous journals such as, Journal of London Mathematical Society, Geometriae Dedicata, & New York Journal of Mathematics. Dr. Athreya is also leading research projects under various NSF grants (CAREER, Workforce Program & PI), and the Simpson Center Collaboration Grant, among others. He received the N. Tenney Peck Teaching Award during his tenure as Assistant Professor at the Department of Mathematics, University of Illinois in 2012. He was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study, Illinois (2013) & a visiting fellow at the London Mathematical Society (2009).

Prof. Anil Bhatti (cultural theory, philosophy) is currently Professor Emeritus at the Centre of German Studies, School of Language, Literature & Cultural Studies (SLLCS) at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. His key research interests are theory of literature and culture theory, modern German literature, comparative literature and comparative culture studies between Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and India/Asia, orientalism and postcolonial studies. Prof. Bhatti studied Germanistik, International Politics, and Philosophy at the LMU (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität), Munich, and was awarded a doctorate (magna cum laude) in 1971 with a dissertation on Clemens Brentano und die Barocktradition. He joined JNU in 1971 and was a Professor from 1983 until his retirement in 2009. He has been the Chairperson of the Centre of German Studies multiple times, served a term as Dean of the SLLCS and another term as Dean, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU. He has been a member of National level committees and panels related to the development of Foreign Language Studies in India. He has been a Referee/Gutachter at the international level for research funding organizations in Austria (Wiener Wissenschafts-,Forschungs-und Technologiefonds (WWTF), Österreichischen Wissenschaftsfonds (FWF)), Germany (Volkswagenstiftung) and South Africa (National Research Foundation). He served as the chief editor, Journal of the School of Languages (JNU) (1974-1984), & also as the President of Goethe Society of India (1998-2012), where he is now the Honorary President. Prof. Bhatti has received multiple awards, including the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (March 2005) & the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art (August 2011).

Prof. Sunil Sharma (Persian/Indian literature, history) is currently the professor of Persian & Indian Literatures in the Department of World Languages & Literatures at Boston University, USA. His broad area of interest is the cultural history of the Persian language in the Indian subcontinent. In his writings, he also deals with subjects such as the migration of literati, issues of linguistic identity, and the interface of Persian and Indian literary traditions in specific contexts over time. He is also interested in comparisons of textual and visual representations in an attempt to understand how images can help us go beyond the limit of words. Prof. Sharma completed his M.A. (Classics) and B.A. (Humanities) from New York University, USA, and went on to do his Ph.D. in Persian Language and Literature at the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, University of Chicago, USA. He also holds visiting positions in multiple universities, such as Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Harvard University (Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies) & University of London, SOAS. Some of his published books are ‘Persian Poetry at the Indian Frontier: Mas’ud Sa’d Salman of Lahore’ (2000), and ‘In the Bazaar of Love: The Selected Poetry of Amir Khusrau’, co-authored with Paul Losensky (2011). His forthcoming book is titled, ‘Mughal Arcadia: Persian Poetry in an Indian Court’ (2017). Prof. Sharma is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (UK) & is on the editorial board of Murty Classical Library of India (Harvard University Press).

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TSFC mentions: Masud Sa’d Salman, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Hafez, Amir Khusro, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Richard Dedekind, Rudyard Kipling, Rabindranath Tagore, Michel Foucault, Octavio Paz, U. R. Ananthamurthy, Andrew Wiles, & Richard Taylor, among others.