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About David Curley

David L. Curley is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Liberal Studies, Western Washington University, where he taught courses about South Asian social and cultural history, religion, and literature from 1991 to his retirement in 2012.  He served as Chair of the department from 2006 to 2011. After retirement he has continued to work on international education programs by serving on the board of the Institute for Village Studies.
 Focusing on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Curley’s interdisciplinary research has used Bengali narrative literature to write social history.  He has explored how didactic Hindu religious folk literature has represented social, political, and economic problems, and proposed novel solutions relying on both divine and human agency.  In this work Curley has proposed that some agencies—buying and selling, for example—could be used by both men and women, while others were identified either with men, or with women.  Even these ‘gendered’ agencies, however, were open to use by the opposite gender when necessary.  For example, in extraordinary circumstances royal women could lead soldiers in battle even though this was a ‘masculine’ agency—and this was true not just in literature, but in ‘real life’ as well.
Curley’s most recent research has focused on heroes’ stories and romances. He has been interested in how heroes’ stories and romances helped audiences negotiate social boundaries of gender, caste, and religion.  For example, stories about ‘love’ marriages that crossed caste or religious boundaries, and that were made despite the opposition of parents, must negotiate these boundaries either happily or tragically.  In this research he has used both ballads and more complex written literature.


Present Emeritus Faculty, Western Washington University Western Expert
Present Professor, Department of Liberal Studies, Western Washington University Liberal Studies Department

Curriculum Vitae

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Books (2)

Lectures (1)

Chapters in Books (7)

Articles (5)

Refereed Papers (16)