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HP 300: Introduction to Contemporary South Asian Literature & Film: Syllabus

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This interdisciplinary class will survey South Asian literature and film, focusing mainly on the period of the mid-twentieth century through today, covering a wide range of cultural spaces, historical events, languages, and socio-cultural dynamics from the Indian continent and its diaspora, specifically: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. We will consider a range of cultural texts throughout this course, including short stories, poetry, novels, and films, which represent crucial historical events in this region, including the Independence movement in British India, the partition of 1947 and the humanitarian crisis it spurred, the tumultuous post-Independence periods in India and Pakistan and the Indo-Pakistan 1971 war that led to the founding of Bangladesh, Indira Gandhi’s brutal “Emergency” period in the late 1970s, Sri Lanka’s civil war in the 1970s and 80s, and the ongoing, complex conflict over Kashmir in India and Pakistan. Some of the writers we read foreground the diaspora in and immigration to London and the US, others focus on gender, sexuality, the status of women, caste, and the rights of queer individuals. In addition, while many of the texts we will read have been written in English (and we will discuss the politics of writing in English), others have been translated into English. The films we watch will be in Hindi, but will have English subtitles—therefore proficiency in a language other than English is not required for this class.