Indira Viswanathan Peterson is Professor of Asian Studies, Emerita, Mount Holyoke College, where she held the David B. Truman Chair. She has been Professor of Sanskrit at Columbia University, and Fortieth Anniversary Professor in the Five College Consortium of Western Massachusetts. She has a B.A. (honours) in English Literature from Bombay University, and A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in Sanskrit and Indian Studies from Harvard University.
Indira Peterson is a scholar of Sanskrit and Tamil literature and Hinduism, and South Indian social and cultural history and performing arts, especially Karnatak music and early modern dance drama. Other interests include translation, European-Indian culture contact, and comparative literature. Peterson has published widely on these subjects. She has held a number of research fellowships, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, The American Institute for Indian Studies, the Social Science Research Council, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Indira Peterson’s major publications are: Poems to Śiva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints (1989), Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic: The Kirātārjunīya of Bhāravi (2003), and Arjuna and the Hunter, the first complete English translation of the Sanskrit literary epic Kirātārjunīya, in the Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press (2016). Other publications include: George Michell and Indira Peterson, The Great Temple at Thanjavur: A Thousand Years. 1010 – 2010 (2010); Performing Pasts: Reinventing the Arts in modern South India, co-edited with Davesh Soneji (2008); and Tamil Geographies: Cultural Constructions of Space and Place in South India, co-edited with Martha Selby (2007). Indira Peterson was the editor of Indian literature for The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces (Expanded 6th Edition, 1995), and The Norton Anthology of World Literature (2002).
Peterson is completing the monograph Tanjore Renaissance: King Serfoji II and South Indian Modernity, on the nineteenth-century encounter of multiple Indian and European knowledge systems, arts, and sciences in an Indian cultural center, under the leadership of the royal polymath and innovator Serfoji II. Also in progress are Drama, the Court, and the Public in Early Modern India, and An Enlightenment Library in Nineteenth-century India: The Personal Collection of King Serfoji II of Tanjore (r.1798-1832).