Department Chair:
Cynthia Chapman

Administrative Assistant:
Brenda Hall

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8866
Fax: (440) 775-6910

Rice Hall 316
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Paula Richman

Paula Richman

Emeritus William H. Danforth Professor

Educational Background

  • Bachelor of Arts, Oberlin College, 1974
  • Master of Arts, Princeton University, 1977
  • Master of Arts, University of Chicago, 1980
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Chicago, 1983

Paula Richman, Emeritus William H Danforth Professor of South Asian Religions at Oberlin College, specializes in study of the Ramayana, a Hindu epic, and Tamil, a language spoken in south India and abroad by more than 75 million people. In addition to publishing two books on Tamil poetry, she recently completed a book on 20th century retellings of the Ramayana in Tamil.  She is most widely known in India for three edited volumes: Many Ramayanas: Questioning Ramayanas; and Ramayana Stories in Modern South Asia.  She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and several grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Institute of India Studies.

Monographs on Tamil literature

  • A Narrative and a Region:  The Story of Rama and Sita in Tamil Country and Beyond.  Forthcoming.
  • Extraordinary Child: Poems from a South Indian Devotional Genre SHAPS Library of Translations.  (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997).
  • Women, Branch Stories, and Religion Rhetoric in a Tamil Buddhist Text. South Asia Series, No. 12. Syracuse: Maxwell School, Syracuse University Press, 1988.

Edited Volumes on the Ramayana Tradition

Articles on Ramayana Tradition in the Indian Diaspora

  • "'We Don't Change It, We Make it Applicable:' Ramlila in Trinidad." The Drama Review: the Journal of Performance Studies, 54:1 (T205) Winter 2010, pp. 61-89.
  • "Ways of Celebrating Ram's Birth: Ramayana Week in Durban, South Africa." Religions of South Asia. 2:2 (2008): 109-133.
  • "Ravana in London: The Theatrical Career of a Demon in the South Asian Diaspora."              Cultural Dynamics. Issue on "Margins and Migrations" edited by Monisha Das Gupta.  19:2/3 (July/November 2007): 165-192.
  • “A Tamil Modernist’s Account of India’s Past: Ram Raj, Chettiyar Raj, and British Raj.” The Journal of Asian Studies, 6:1 (February 2007), 35-62.
  • “Kumudini’s Ramayana: A Woman’s View of Raghukul Politics.” Manushi: A Journal about Women and Society, 148 (May-June 2005): 22-29.
  • “Shifting Terrain: Rama and Odysseus Meet on the London Stage.” Journal of Vaishnava             Studies, (April 2004), pp. 189-199.
  • "A Diaspora Ramayana in Southall, Greater London." The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 67:2 (1999): 35-57.