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CMS 320 A: Cinema And Nation

South Asian Cinema

Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
* *
Sudhir Mahadevan

Additional Details:


This course has been timed to coincide with the  festival of films from South Asia organized by the Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals. The first module focuses on some of the latest films and filmmakers to emerge from South Asia, and introduces students to the genres and cinematic styles of these films: ranging from arthouse realism, to social reformism to ethnographic comedy and satire.

In subsequent modules, we examine other genres that have characterized Indian cinema since the 1990s, ranging from big budget Bollywood, to independent documentaries, to Shakespeare adaptations. The aim in these modules is to think with and through these films, to broader issues pertaining to everyday life in South Asia: from caste, to human rights, to aspirations of upward mobility amidst neoliberal reforms.

The final module (and the course as a who) proceed in reverse-chronological order, starting from the 1990s when India went through significant economic reform,  and ending with an iconic 1950s film made in a  newly independent Indian nation-state. In tracking changing styles in reverse, we hope to discover unexpected connections between past and present, and disrupt assumptions that newness necessarily equals progress.

Students should expect to be introduced to film vocabulary and will be required to engage in film analysis in their writing for this course. Assignments shall include a combination of required discussion posts, quizzes, and essays.

The course shall be taught as a  combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions. Whenever possible, I shall post lecture materials in advance and synchronous sessions will be of 45 to 50 minute duration, focusing on discussion and q&a. On occasion, I might prefer to lecture for the entire 110 minutes of the synchronous session. On such occasions, the lectures will be recorded and uploaded. Attendance in these synchronous sessions will not be compulsory.

Catalog Description: 
Examines the cinema of a particular national, ethnic or cultural group, with films typically shown in the original language with subtitles. Topics reflect themes and trends in the national cinema being studied.
Department Requirements Met: 
Cinema & Media Studies Core
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
November 4, 2020 - 10:52am