In my work for the Asian Studies Department at UBC I divide my time between teaching the Elementary and Intermediate levels of study in the Sanskrit language (SANS 300 and SANS 400) and elective courses in South and Southeast Asian studies. In my courses in Sanskrit language I endeavor to introduce students to the complexities of the language by combining formal instruction in the structure and essential vocabulary of the language with classroom recitations, exercises in spoken Sanskrit and preparation of a class play that give students the opportunity to experience using Sanskrit directly as a medium of communication.

I have developed four new courses for the department that feature South and Southeast Asian content. These are:

  • Asia 370—The Sanskrit Cosmopolis, India and the World, 300—1500 CE

This course examines the history of the transcultural world connecting much of South and Southeast Asia ca. 300-1500 CE. A focus on the role played by the linguistic ideology of Sanskrit provides a framework for examining the arts, material culture and sociocultural patterns of South and Southeast Asia in the premodern era.

  • ASIA 390—History of the Indian Ocean World

This course traces the patterns of economic and cultural connectivity in the Indian Ocean World beginning with the era of the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea (c. 150 CE), and the Dongson drum networks of early Southeast Asia (c. 500 BCE—300 CE). We examine the networks that connected India with the Mideast and Southeast Asia during the era of the Sanskrit cosmopolis and follow this with a detailed look at the development of the Islamic trading states of the eastern Indian Ocean during the “age of commerce” (1450-1680).

  • ASIA 329 Gender in Southeast Asia

This course examines the interaction of gender, kinship and status systems in representative Southeast Asian cultures. The course is based on readings in contemporary theoretical and ethnographic studies and draws upon the lecturer’s experience as a member of a Balinese community of Indonesia. Student discussions of contemporary issues of sexuality, gender relations and gender identities are encouraged both through use of an online Forum and classroom discussions conducted on a regular basis.

  • Asia 304 Survey of South and Southeast Asian Performing Arts

This is a new course, first introduced in Winter Term 2, 2015-16 that surveys some of the most prominent musical, dance and dramatic genres of South and Southeast Asia. Learning objectives are aimed at ensuring that students will gain a strong understanding of the vital role the musical and performing arts have played in South and Southeast Asia through an understanding of the history of these art forms and their persistence as living forces in contemporary societies. Students are encouraged to incorporate their studies of a performance art into the course and to participate in practicum exercises that provide first-hand experience of the building blocks of select musical and performing idioms of South and Southeast Asia.

Educational Background

1988                     Ph.D. (Linguistics), The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

1980                     MA (Linguistics), The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

1977                     BA (Indian Civilizations), The University of California, Berkeley



2014     Principle Lecturer for the intensive summer course in Kawi (Old Javanese) language convened by the Institute for Anthropology of the University of Heidelberg

2006-7 Fellow, The Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute for Advanced Study of Berlin, in support of work on preparation of a volume on textuality in the history of the Malay-Indonesian archipelago

2003-4 Fellow, The Institute for Advanced Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for participation in the research group titled “Toward a History of Sanskrit Poetry: Points of Innovation and Change”

1996     Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Research Programs Translation Grant; to support work on the English translation and annotation for Sekar Iniket, an Anthology of Old Javanese Kakawin Literature

1992     Fulbright Fellowship in the Southeast Asia Regional Research Program of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars; to support work on the English translation and annotation for Sekar Iniket, an Anthology of Old Javanese Kakawin Literature

While my work as a Lecturer at UBC is not focused on research I continue to develop my interest on the role of language in the development of state and society in India and Southeast Asia and my work on the interface between the kāvya literature in Sanskrit and the court epics of ancient Java and Bali known as kakawin. My published work details the history of this relationship, focusing on the development of the Old Javanese language as a successful “cosmopolitan vernacular” language that has been a vehicle for cultural expression for over a millennium. My publications growing out of these studies include:


2015  “The Sanskritized Sections [of the Tanjung Tanah Manuscript].” In Uli Kozok (ed.), The Tanjung Tanah Codes of Law. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 239-319.


2014a   “A Constant Flow of Pilgrims: Kāvya and the Early History of the Kakawin.” In Yigal Bronner, David Shulman and Gary Tubb (eds.) Innovations and Turning Points, Toward a History of Kāvya Literature. Oxford University Press, pp. 195-231.


2014b “A Distant Mirror: Innovation and Change in the East Javanese Kakawin.” In Yigal Bronner, David Shulman and Gary Tubb (eds.) Innovations and Turning Points, Toward a History of Kāvya Literature. Oxford University Press, pp. 739-786.


2013     “Correspondences and the question of commentaries,” “Echoes of a wider tradition,” “Parallels and transformations,” and “Close parallels: the fall of the sumanasa flower and the death of Indumatī” (Chapter 4). Part III, Chapters 1-4 in Worsley, Peter with S. Supomo, Thomas M. Hunter and Margaret Fletcher Sumanasāntaka, Death by a Sumanasa flower of Mpu Monaguṇa, an Old Javanese epic poem, its Indian source and Balinese Illustrations. Leiden: KITLV Press, pp. 819-925.


2011a   “Translation in a World of Diglossia.” In Jan van der Putten and Ronit Ricci, Translation in Asia: Theories, Practices, Histories. Manchester, GB: St. Jerome Publishing, pp. 9-26.


2011b “Exploring the Role of Language in Early State Formation of Southeast Asia.” Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Working Paper No 7. This paper is available for download at:…/nsc_working_paper_series_7.pdf


2011c “Figures of Repetition (yamaka) in the Bhaṭṭikāvya, the Raghuvaṃśa, the Śiwagṛha Inscription and the Rāmāyaṇa Kakawin.” In Andrea Acri, Helen Creese and Arlo Griffiths (eds.) From Laṅkā Eastwards. The Kakawin Rāmāyaṇa in Literature and the Visual Arts. [Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut Voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 247] Leiden: KITLV Press, pp. 25-52. This book chapter can be accessed via Open Access at:;keyword=acri or via the KITLV Press at:


2009     “Yati, a Structural Principle in Old Javanese Versification.” Indo-Iranian Journal 52 (August), pp. 1-52.


2007a   “The Body of the King, Reappraising Singhasari Period Syncretism.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 38, No. 1, (February), pp. 27-53.


2007b   “The Poetics of Grammar in the Javano-Balinese Tradition.” In Sergio La Porta and David Shulman (eds.) The Poetics of Grammar and the Metaphysics of Sound and Sign. [Jerusalem Studies in Language and Culture] Leiden: E.J. Brill, pp. 271-303.

Winter 2019

ASIA370 The Sanskrit Cosmopolis: India and the World, 200-1500 CE Sections

Languages, religions, art forms, and political structures of Asian societies shaped by creative encounters with Sanskrit.

Winter 2019

ASIA390 History of the Indian Ocean World Sections

Societies and empires shaped by voyages of exploration, religious pilgrimages, trading diasporas and forced migration in the world of the Indian Ocean.

Winter 2019

ASIA490C Asian Classics - Fourth Year Seminar - ASIA CLSSCS SEM Sections

Focus changes from year to year. Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor and fourth-year standing.