Whitney Cox’s main interests are in the literary and intellectual history of southern India in the early second millennium CE. Within that broad range, his research has concentrated on Sanskrit kāvya and poetic theory, the history of the Śaiva religion, and medieval Tamil literature and epigraphy, especially that of the Coḻa dynastic state. Cox is also interested in the practice of literary translation and critical edition.
After starting the study of Sanskrit as an undergraduate, and living in Madurai, Tamilnadu, Cox began graduate studies in SALC, culminating in the award of a PhD in 2006. He has lived and worked extensively in Tamilnadu, Karnataka, and Pondicherry. Prior to joining the SALC faculty, Cox taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has held awards from Fulbright-Hays, the British Academy, and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, and has been a fellow in the Franke Institute for the Humanities and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
In 2019-2020, Cox will serve as the Principal Investigator of a project supported by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, entitled “Śāstram: Form, Power, and Translation in Indic Scholasticism” and as a Co-Investigator for another project at the Collegium, “The CEDAR Project: Criticial Editions for Digital Analysis and Research.” He serves on the editorial board of the Murty Library of Classical India and the “Collection Indologie” series published by the IFP-EFEO (Pondicherry), as well as those of the journals Philological Encounters and the Indian Economic and Social History Review.
Forthcoming works include translations of Bilhaṇa’s Vikramāṅkadevacarita and the third book of Kampan’s Tamil Rāmāyaṇam, as well as a study of the interactions between Kashmir and India’s Tamil-speaking south over the medieval period.
SANS 30100/40100/47901: Third Year/Fourth Year/Advanced Readings in Sanskrit (recent courses have included alaṃkāraśāstra, logic and epistemology, Tantric texts, and drama)
SALC 38403/48403 Text and World in Medieval South Asia
SALC 48405 Theory and Practice of Indic Textual Criticism
SALC 40000 South Asia as a Unit of Study
HUMA 11000 Readings in World Literature: The Epic
Work with Students
Cox is happy to supervise doctoral students interested in premodern South Asian culture and literature, but especially in literary and philosophical texts from the medieval and early modern periods. While his own training and inclinations tend toward textual study, he has also worked closely with students concentrating on social history and archaeology Many of his students focus on the literatures of the Dravidian South, including works in Kannada and Telugu, in addition to Sanskrit and Tamil. He is also happy to guide BA theses on South Asia, and to work with Masters students.
Bronner, Yigal, Cox, Whitney, and McCrea, Larry. South Asian Texts in History: Critical Engagements With Sheldon Pollock. Ann Arbor, MI: Association of Asian Studies, 2011 (Indian edition: Delhi, Primus Books, 2016)