Religious Studies | Religions of South Asia: Mandir and Masjid at the Movies
R551 | 11191 | R. Manring
Note: two lectures and film night, see schedule of classes.
Mandir (temple), masjid (mosque), and for that matter church make
frequent appearances in South Asian cinema, sometimes for surprising
reasons. In this course we will consider the meaning of religion in
South Asia using film as our lens to explore what John Booth calls
the "ambiguity of the sacred-secular distinction in Indian
culture." We will begin by reading and discussing two chapters on
how scholars "read" film, with a bit of practice in class before our
first film screening. The Lyden textbook will provide us with our
theoretical background.Each week we will watch and discuss, in
detail, one film. Our broad topics include partition, gender, myth,
fundamentalism, and the diaspora. We will come to know a range of
views on religion and its role in the lives of South Asians through
film (mythological, social commentary, and Bollywood blockbusters)
produced in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and our reading of
critical articles for each film. No prerequisites, and prior
knowledge of South Asia, while helpful, is not expected.
This course contributes to a liberal arts education by introducing
some of the ways people in South Asia use film to reflect their
various views on their own cultures and religions. Students will
develop critical thinking and writing skills through class
discussions and weekly writing assignments.
Each week students will submit a 1-2 page response to questions
raised by that week's material. Grading will be based on these
papers (30%), attendance and participation in classroom activities
(30%), and two term papers (40%). Our in-class discussions will
centre around the readings, and questions posed on OnCourse will
help guide students' thinking about each piece.
By the end of the course students will be able to
- recognize and deconstruct religious tropes in South Asian
film, and discuss these in religious studies critical terms
- discuss the role of Bollywood in perpetuating communal
(religious) stereotypes, and how the diaspora furthers such goals
- understand the enduring trauma of the Partition of South Asia
- debate the cliche "Hindus and Muslims are all brothers" from
various South Asian cinematic perspectives
Meets with Honor-H303 and REL-R 388.