february 2013 programmes  


The Foundations of Western Civilization  

monday 4th february
Lecture 31  - Barbarian Kingdoms in the West 

Lecture 32- The World of Charlemagne 


monday 11 february
Lecture 33  - The Carolingian Renaissance  

Lecture 34  - The Expansion of Europe 


friday 15th february
6.30 pm Moonweavers – Chaand ke Julaahe  “An Evening of Feminist Poetics” 


saturday 16th february
1-2.30 pm Simple Italian Cooking a cooking demonstration and talk by Lynne Chatterton


tuesday 19th february
6.30 pm “Malkha: weaving a vision” a talk by Uzramma at The Attic

 Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd february                        
10.30 am to 7.30 pm - Exhibition “Khadi & Malkha” at The Shop

thursday 28th february
6.30 pm’ Why Ghalib Speaks to Me' a talk by , Prof Gopi Chand Narang



The Foundations of Western Civilization – an education in 24 evenings.  An Attic video presentation from The Great Courses taught by Prof. Thomas Noble, University of Notre Dame.

You can discover the essential nature, evolution, and perceptions of Western civilization from its humble beginnings in the great river valleys of Iraq and Egypt to the dawn of the modern world.


monday 4th february
Lecture 31  - Barbarian Kingdoms in the West 

The period from 500 to 750 AD saw the transformation of the Germanic west. The lands of Europe were Christianized. The early Mediterranean kingdoms failed and the Latin traditions formed into a cultural blend of classical Christian and Germanic.

The Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Vizigoths were either weakened or defeated by the Franks, the Lombards or Muslim invaders from North Africa. The future was left to the Anglo Saxsons who entered Britain in the wake of the Roman withdrawal and the Franks who expanded slowly across modern Holland, Belgium and what is now France.

 The Franks converted from paganism to Catholicism and maintained the Roman tradition of rule with Latin being the official language. Many aristocratic families ruled through sub kingdoms.

 Monasteries spread all across Europe and became important centres of learning. Monks played a key role in converting the people of the country side. Bishops became key advisors to kings. A new cultural life with exuberant decorative motifs entered art and learning based on the Bible produced many great centres of education especially in the North of England.


Lecture 32- The World of Charlemagne 

Charlemagne (Charles The Great in Latin) was the greatest member of the Carolingian family which arose in the early 7th century in the northeastern region of the Frankish world. His reign (768 to 814) marked a turning point in European history. He was a great but complex figure: moral and profligate, humane and vicious, barbarous and learned.

 His military campaigns – 53 in 46 years helped to maintain the realm. His institutional development in both government and politics helped create wide consultation and consensus.  Ecclesiastical developments led to a close alliance with the Papacy. His attempts to attain uniformity in Canon law, liturgy and worship went far towards achieving a common culture in Western Europe. The idea of Christendom was born in Charlemagne’s reign.

 The breakup of the Carolingian empire was perhaps inevitable. Family rivalries among Charlemagne successors, the sheer complexity of the lands and peoples ruled and attacks by Vikings, Muslims and Magyars led to the breakup of the empire.


monday 11 february

Lecture 33  - The Carolingian Renaissance  

The Carolingians themselves had a very profound sense that they were doing something novel, that they were engaged in reform, in revival and in a great cultural project. The Bible was central- as a book, as a source of information and as a literary model. The Christian Roman Empire of Constantine (not Augustus) was important too. The “7 liberal arts” was the basic curriculum in antiquity. The trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) was the basic education and the quadrivium (arithmetic, astronomy, geometry and music) was the advanced.

Every monastery and cathedral had to have a school and Charlemagne brought in scholars from elsewhere in Europe – Graminians from Italy, specialists in theology and liturgy from Spain. Libraries were built up and manuscripts copied. The Carolingian ideal of rule derived from the Bible and Gregory’s “Pastoral Rule”: ministerial kingship.. This held that office was a burden entrusted to his servants to be exercised on his behalf. It did not bring rank, wealth or prestige.

 Unfortunately Latin was “killed” and turned into a dead but scholarly language and henceforth Romance continued to evolve as a living language. Many important books were produced during this period and a common European culture evolved at the highest levels of society. Catholic, Christianity entered every aspect of life in Europe. The Carolingians established the framework for European intellectual life until the emergence of universities in the 12th century.


Lecture 34  - The Expansion of Europe 

The period from 900 to 1300 was one of the longest eras of sustained growth in world history. An increase of population, modest technological innovation, expanded cereal production and improved roads and transport vehicles was a crucial background to the political and cultural achievements of the period.

 Church and secular governments worked to protect trade and traders. Leagues of cities and ports with banking agencies and insurance led to vast commercial networks from the north and Baltic seas, the Danube Basin to the Italian cities, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean via caravan routes. Such widespread prosperity had not been evident since the Pax Romana.



"Western", "Civilization" and "Foundations"


History Begins at Sumer


Egypt-The Gift of the Nile


The Hebrews-Small States and Big Ideas


A Succession of Empires


Wide-Ruling Agamemnon


Dark Age and Archaic Greece


The Greek Polis-Sparta


The Greek Polis-Athens


Civic Culture-Architecture and Drama


The Birth of History


From Greek Religion to Socratic Philosophy


Plato and Aristotle


The Failure of the Polis and the Rise of Alexander


The Hellenistic World


The Rise of Rome


The Roman Republic-Government and Politics


Roman Imperialism


The Culture of the Roman Republic


Rome-From Republic to Empire


The Pax Romana


Rome's Golden and Silver ages


Jesus and the New Testament


The Emergence of a Christian Church


Late Antiquity-Crisis and Response


Barbarians and Emperors


The Emergence of the Catholic Church


Christian Culture in Late Antiquity


Muhammad and Islam


The Birth of Byzantium


Barbarian Kingdoms in the West


The World of Charlemagne


The Carolingian Renaissance


The Expansion of Europe


The Chivalrous Society


Medieval Political Traditions I


Medieval Political Traditions, II


Scholastic Culture


Vernacular Culture


The Crisis of Renaissance Europe


The Renaissance Problem


Renaissance Portraits


The Northern Renaissance


The Protestant Reformation-Martin Luther


The Protestant Reformation-John Calvin


Catholic Reforms and "Confessionalization"


Exploration and Empire


What Challenges Remain?






friday 15th february
6.30 pm Moonweavers – Chaand ke Julaahe  “An Evening of Feminist Poetics” 

  This open mic session is based on the theme  of ‘Feminist Poetics’ . All are welcome to participate with your own poems in English, Hindi or Urdu. 2 poems per poet, unless there is time.

Names of participants who intend to read should be sent to  ratii_8@yahoo.co.in and/or tripurariks@gmail.com.

 We are looking for poems that are informed by a feminine sensibility, poems that question/examine the canon of feminine, that examine gender relations from a new, alternative standpoint, poems that create an alternative worldview of women’s roles and functions in society, one different from the normative, poems that examine women’s issues in a non- clichéd light, poems that delve deep into a woman’s subjectivity and capture her everyday struggles for identity and survival. Basically, we are looking for pieces that engage with the idea of gender and offer us new paradigms for recasting the role of women in society.

  What we are not looking for are- pieces that invoke stereotypes about women (women being a mother, Goddess, etc) and talk about preservation / protection of women from a patriarchal standpoint. We are looking for poems that challenge these stereotypes and create a new syntax, a new language altogether, a language that challenges the normative patriarchal discourse.

All are welcome whether reading poems or not.


In Remembrance of Things Past Series
A series commemorating food, your memories of the place and the person with whom you associate this remembrance. 


saturday 16th february
1-2.30 pm Simple Italian Cooking a cooking demonstration and talk by Lynne Chatterton 



·         Antipasti – grilled aubergine and zucchini
 Risotto – Fish and Vegetarian
Green Salad
Peasant bread
Italian Xmas treats - riciarelli, panpepato, pancioccolato
 Dates and clementines
 Italian espresso coffee

Italian cuisine is characterized by its extreme simplicity, with many dishes having very few ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region.

 Risotto is a class of Italian rice dishes cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based. Many types of risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Short grain, sticky rice is preferred for Risotto’s due to their ability to absorb liquids. 

Peasant breads use whole wheat for the daily bread and  hard wheat (called durum) to produce longer lasting bread.  Pizza and focaccia are both varieties of bread.  The bread is made from simple ingredients:   yeast, flour, water, olive oil and a little salt. These breads contain more protein and offer more dietary fibre than other types of bread.

 After the risotto we will enjoy the sweet delights of an Italian family meal……treats that rarely appear in restaurants.   These sweets are made from family recipes handed down over many generations and are only eaten at particular periods of the year and, although they were until recently only available from the towns and regions where they originated, today they can be found in most Italian shops at the appropriate season.  These will be followed by dates and clementines - fruit is always the end to an Italian family meal.  And Italian espresso coffee gives one strength to rise from the table.

Lynne Chatterton, is the author of "Sustainable Dryland Farming" (CUP) a book about farmers and their successes in growing wheat and sheep in semi-arid regions of the world, and "Red Herrings"  a memoir about life, food and farming. She grew up in Australia with the desert on one side of her village and the great River Murray on the other.  She lived on an irrigated fruit farm, then married a wheat/sheep farmer turned politician, experienced political life from the inside, travelled widely, wrote and spoke regularly about food - from how food is grown and how food policy is made. Her new book "From the Ground Up - Cooking Without Fear" – connects what we cook in our homes with current world crises of climate change, water conflicts, diminishing fish stocks, declining and eroded farmland, and globalised trade.  She concludes that, in spite of these threats, home cooking can bring us pleasure and satisfaction.

She has lived in Central Italy for twenty years, growing and cooking the food about which she writes.

All items demonstrated will be served for tasting.

 Registration Required in advance: Rs 500 per head Call 23746050 or email mina@theatticdelhi.org 


tuesday 19th february
6.30 pm “Malkha: weaving a vision” a talk by Uzramma at The Attic

 Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd february                        
10.30 am to 7.30 pm - Exhibition “Khadi & Malkha” at The Shop  

 Malkha fabrics are woven by skilled weaver families on handlooms in Indian villages from cotton grown by smallholder farmer families. The malkha process puts the intermediate stage of cotton spinning back in the village, making the entire textile chain from cotton to cloth village-based. The newly designed machines put sophisticated modern technology at the service of the village, on a human scale. They handle the delicate cotton fibres gently, avoiding the force and violence of conventional processing, keeping the springiness of the live fibres all the way into the cloth. That’s what gives malkha fabric its swing & drape. Malkha fabric is soft, it breathes, absorbs, holds colour, reflects its handmade heritage in its texture. 

Based on archival research, intuition and the practical experience of Dastkar Andhra in handloom weaving, a small group of engineers & field activists brought the malkha idea to life, combining technology development with social process, aiming to remake the broken linkages between cotton farmers and weavers, initiating a series of small-scale, village based, field-to-fabric production chains.  

The background of this talk is the history of the traditional cotton textile industry over millennia. India for at least 18 centuries was the acknowledged world leader in cotton textiles, making a breathtaking diversity of fabrics. With the entry of the British East India Company into production the chain of interdependence between cotton farmers and weavers was broken, losing with it the process of cotton textile production that had made India the world’s supplier of cotton cloth.   

With the modern machinery introduced by the East India Company in the 19th century cotton had now to be grown for one standardized type of machine. Nature had to adapt to technology, rather than – as before - flexible technologies permitting a huge diversity of cotton varieties. 

The malkha initiative aims to regain India’s traditional strength in cotton textiles.

UZRAMMA founded the Decentralized Cotton Yarn Trust in 2005 & the Malkha Marketing Trust in 2008 to promote producer-owned village based cotton textile production from field to fabric, linking cotton farming to handloom weaving and reviving village spinning.

From 1989 to 2005 Uzramma was active in Dastkar Andhra, a non-profit research consultancy for the cotton handloom industry which she founded in 1989. Dastkar Andhra is active in policy research, marketing of cotton handlooms, natural dyeing and technological research.


She has been a member of policy groups for the handloom industry constituted by the Government of India and has published articles on cotton handloom weaving and natural dyeing in various journals.




thursday 28th february
6.30 pm’ Why Ghalib Speaks to Me' a talk by, Prof Gopi Chand Narang

'Monthly Monologue: Why it Speaks to Me?'

Urdu, the language of Delhi (Zaban-e- Dehli) had its origins in the Sultanate period of the 13th century and its magnificent flowering in the courts of the Mughals in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Known at different as Dehlavi, Hindavi, Rekhta, Hindi and finally Urdu it produced the cultural high point in Literature, Music and Poetry of the Mughal Empire including the cultured elites of Delhi, Hyderabad, Rampur, Bhopal and hundreds of cities in the Deccan and the Punjab. 

Trade between the Arabs, Turks, Afghans, Persians and the local merchants speaking Punjabi, Khadi Boli, Sindhi and other local languages  at the large sarai’s (inns)  resulted in the birth of a new language, a fusion of the languages of Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. The Ghazal, the Qawali and the masnavi became the language of music and poetry with the likes of Meer, Ghalib, Momin and Zauq but Urdu also became the language of rebellion against British rule and the demand for freedom and the creation of a just society with authors like Iqbal, Josh, Firaq and Manto.

Hindustani Awaaz, in collaboration with The Attic, presents a monthly series of monologues: Poetry, literature, short stories, plays, essays, nazms, ghazals. A series of eclectic speakers will present/sing/recite their favourite Urdu text and explain why the text ‘speaks’ to them the way it does. We hope this series will highlight a neglected aspect of the Delhi cultural scene.                       

  Prof Gopi Chand Narang has had a long and illustrious career as a teacher of Urdu. He is a writer and critic of depth and gravitas, an engaging and eloquent speaker, a tireless organiser of seminars, symposiums and academic interventions, and an indefatigable champion of the cause of Urdu. Possibly, he has single-handedly done more for the cause of Urdu in India than many anjumans and associations.

Prof Narang is a former President of the Sahitya Akademi and a Professor Emeritus of Delhi University. He has published more than 64 books, including a scholarly and critical work on language, literature, poetics and cultural studies. Many of his books have been translated into different Indian languages.

He holds a lifelong belief in the innate ability of Urdu to build bridges, to forge interfaith harmony and emerge as the pre-eminent symbol of composite culture. Stalwart, scholar, spokesperson for Urdu, Prof Narang is also a symbol of the pluralism and secularism that was once the hallmark of Urdu tehzeeb.