Marathi at the University of Chicago


Marathi (मराठी) is the official state language of Maharashtra (महाराष्ट्र), by population (currently 112,400,000) the second-largest state in India. Approximately 84,000,000 people claim Marathi as their mother tongue. This makes Marathi, in terms of numbers of native speakers, the third-largest language within India after Hindi and Telugu. Maharashtra is the most urbanized state in India after Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and it is industrially the most advanced. It has long ranked first in GDP among all the Indian states; it is now double the size of the second-ranked state economy. Although the population of Maharashtra falls just shy of 10% of India’s population, it accounts for fully 15% of India’s industrial output and 40% of national revenues.

Mumbai (मुंबई), the state capital of Maharashtra, is India’s financial capital and largest and most cosmopolitan city—and is fast emerging as India’s first truly global city.  Pune (पुणे), India’s seventh-largest city, major industrial center, and burgeoning IT hub, was historically the capital of the Maratha domains in the Pre-Colonial Period. It remains today the defining center of a vibrant Marathi-language culture, as manifested especially in the domains of Marathi-language publishing, Marathi theatre, and Marathi film and television. Here are just three prominent examples. Vijay Tendulkar (Silence! The Court is in Session; Sakharam Binder; Gashiram Kotwal) has a global reputation as one of the defining Indian playwrights of modern India. Arun Kolatkar, bilingual poet in Marathi and English (Jejuri; Arun Kolatkarcya Kavita; Kala Ghoda Poems, Bhijki Vahi), has emerged over the past two decades as perhaps the preeminent Indian poet of his generation.  Kiran Nagarkar, another bilingual writer in Marathi and English (Seven Sixes are Forty-Three [सात सक्कं त्रेचाळीस]; Ravan and Eddie; Cuckold; Bedtime Story) is another writer with a major international following. 

Although an official political formation of recent origin (1960), “Maharashtra” has existed notionally since at least the thirteenth century CE as a term designating the linguistic, cultural, and literary region of the northern Deccan Plateau where Marathi has been the prevailing language and medium of literary expression for over eight hundred years. Marathi is the southern-most major Indo-Aryan language of India and as such has been influenced most heavily by the Dravidian languages of south India, most especially Kannada and Telugu, with which it has shared long overlapping histories. Marathi and Maharashtra represent in many ways an important bridge—certainly geographically but also linguistically, culturally, and politically—between North and South, Indo-Aryan and Dravidian.


Marathi at SALC

Marathi students at the University of Chicago have worked over the years on a wide range of topics in the fields of political science, ethnomusicology, history, history of religions, and comparative literature.  They have consistently been successful in securing Fulbright, AIIS, FLAS, and FLAG language and research fellowships, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Given these resources, students are strongly encouraged to enhance their engagement with Marathi language and culture by enrolling also in the AIIS Marathi Language Program courses in Pune.

The University of Chicago currently offers four years of Marathi instruction at the beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. Advanced levels are tailored to individual students' research needs.  The Marathi courses offered, staggered annually according to demand, are as follows:

MARA 10100-10200-10300. First-Year Marathi I, II, III.  This course follows the textbook Marathi in Context (with its online component Marathi Online) in its focus on developing the basic skills—comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing—of Marathi language use. It covers all the fundamentals of Marathi grammar—but only as they are encountered in context, within a wide array of social and conversational "situations."

MARA 20100-20200, 20300.  Second-Year Marathi I, II, III.   PQ:  MARATHI 10300 or equivalent.   This course significantly extends both the breadth and the depth of the social and conversational situations introduced in the first year and includes numerous readings, largely from An Intermediate Marathi Reader.  It covers all the grammar required for reading most kinds of modern Marathi prose texts.

MARA 30100-30200-30300. Third-Year Marathi I, II, III.  PQ: MARATHI 20300 or equivalent.  Readingsfrom An Advanced Marathi Reader and a wide array of other sources depending on student interests, with continuing grammar review and practice in composition and speech. 

MARA 40100-40200-40300.  Fourth-Year Marathi I, II, III.  PQ: MARATHI 30300 or equivalent.  Directed readings selected (based on student interests and research needs) from the entire range of genres (verse and prose) and periods, excluding Old Marathi (13th-14th centuries), with continuing grammar review and practice in composition and speech. 

MARA 47900.  Readings: Advanced Marathi.  PQ: MARATHI 40300 or equivalent.  Readings in all genres and periods, excluding Old Marathi (13th-14th centuries), following students’ scholarly interests and needs. 

The complete first-year Marathi course (interactive and self-directed) is also available with free access as Marathi Online, which can be launched here.

Graduate students whose research interests are focused primarily on reading Marathi texts should contact the instructor (Philip Engblom) about substituting the intensive Marathi Reading Course for the usual first- and second-year Marathi sequence. 

Class Timings

In scheduling first- and second-year classes, every effort is made to make sure that students are not excluded because of scheduling conflicts.  Third and fourth year classes are generally by arrangement, based on the mutual convenience of instructor and students.

Marathi placement exam

Contact Senior Lecturer, Philip Engblom.


Senior Lecturer: Philip C. Engblom (