Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Anthony Cerulli has published a book on classical Indian medical literature that’s been dubbed an important scholarly work for its cultural, religious, and historical subject matter.
Cerulli’s book, “Somatic Lessons: Narrating Patienthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature,” examines the forms and functions of narrative discourse in Sanskrit medical literature. The work explores how narratives have been used in ayurvedic literature to describe how and why people are affected by illness.
The book offers a significant cultural and historical contribution to South Asian studies. “Cerulli demonstrates the decisive importance of these narrative sections in not only providing a cultural and religious backdrop to these texts, but in showing how they actively regulate the entire system and are important in themselves,” said one reviewer of his work.
Published as part of the SUNY series in Hindu Studies, “Somatic Lessons” principally focuses on medical narratives about fever, miscarriage, as well as the so-called king’s disease. In the newly released text, Cerulli discusses the ways in which Sanskrit medical literature shifts from standard clinical discourse to narrative discourse (or storytelling) adapted from religious and philosophical texts, and he examines how these stories factor in medical practice and the history of religions in India. In addition, the text offers a genealogical view of patienthood in India’s history.
In 2008, Cerulli joined the Hobart and William Smith Colleges faculty. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, M.A. from Yale University, and B.A. from Loyola University of Chicago. Cerulli is a former Fulbright Fellow and ACLS fellow; he is currently an NEH fellow, and a visiting scholar at the Institut d’études avancées de Paris. He also has a book forthcoming about medical texts in India’s cultural history.