Heidi R. Pauwels
Content varies from quarter to quarter.
This is an interdisciplinary course, focusing on how religion permeates South Asian popular media, in particular film and television. The goal is to foster understanding and question the use of religious imagery for nation building, the transformation of visual images in service of political agendas, and the creative appropriation of religious scripture on the screen. We explore the multiple agents at work in such processes, paying special attention to political, sociological, psychological and economic forces of the market place. The class has three main (interrelated) thematic foci: nationalist reworkings of Hindu epics, constructions of gender and gendered religious films, and popular media portrayal of communal tension and harmony. The main examples are drawn from popular North Indian movies with international appeal, some "diaspora" movies, the widely popular Indian television series of the eighties and nineties, and Indian comic strips of Amar Citra Kathå.
Student learning goals
knowledge South Asian popular media and contemporary religion
understanding: creative appropriation of scripture
general skill: analyzing media / reflection on popular film
practical skills: summarizing readings organizing new knowledge as overview systematizing findings in research paper presenting research in oral presentation mechanics of academic writing
General method of instruction
The format of the class is partly lecture, partly discussion: usually the lecture is the first meeting of the week and the discussion the second. The lecture introduces the religious and political context, the discussion starts with a short lecture, focusing on the popular cultural background.
Note: there will be weekly film screenings for the class that are outside of normal class hours, yet compulsory for all students to attend.
Relig 352 or equivalent
Class assignments and grading
weekly discussion questions as basis of small-group discussions, final presentation, final paper
Evaluation will be based on Final project and presentation: 40 + 10% Weekly Discussion questions 40% Participation in class and quality of contribution to discussions: 10%