Gender Studies | Problems in Gender Studies: India, Lost & Found in Translation
G402 | 8612 | Seizer, S

This course looks at the work of Indian diasporic filmmakers and
authors, from the 1980s to the present, through whose lens India is
harshly critiqued, fiercely loved, and invariably treated as a site
in need of reform- and transform-ation. Drawing on their own and
others’ experiences of displacement, the artists whose work we study
create works of powerful political provocation as well as historical
testimony, inviting culture critique and debate over the success of
India as a modern and modernizing nation. Our approach to this
material will be ethnographic, as we study the social and cultural
context of the places, events, and personages that figure centrally
in these films and stories. The focus of the films themselves spans
colonial and postcolonial periods, and our readings will focus
accordingly on the continuities between the cultural critiques made
both from afar and from within India during these respective eras.
As gender inequalities in both Hindu and Muslim culture in India
continue to figure prominently in reformist critiques of Indian
modernity, this course treats as its centerpiece the films of two
prolific feminist filmmakers producing highly acclaimed and
controversial films over the last two decades, Mira Nair and Deepa
Mehta. Theirs will not, however, be the only films we view, as we
aim to build our cultural literacy regarding the interventions these
filmmakers are aiming at Indian cultural life more broadly.