India Studies | India, Lost and Found in Translation
I414 | 22801 | S. Seizer


I414 India, Lost and Found in Translation (3 cr.) 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.