India Regional Area Study
|Date:||Late August to early December|
|Offered:||Every other academic year, odd years|
|Program Focus:||Country Study|
|Prerequisites:||Overall GPA of at least 2.75 and good academic standing|
|Fall 2019 Program Leader:||
Professor of English
India’s 5000-year history and current importance in the international socio/political scene provides an environment that is rich for intellectual inquiry. Program sites are in the north and south of India with extended stays in New Delhi, Chennai, and Varanasi. The program starts in New Delhi under the direction of Dr. Sunil Kumar, Professor of History at Delhi University. The program begins with a comprehensive three-week introduction to India and an academic focus on medieval history. This focus is complemented with field trips within New Delhi and trips to Tughluqabad, the Taj Mahal, and Fatehpur Sikri.
From Delhi the academic program moves to Chennai in southeast India where Dr. A.R. Venkatachalapathy will lead the exploration of the history, urban geography and cultures of Tamil Nadu.
From Chennai the last site of study is Varanasi, one of the holiest cities of India. Dr. Nita Kumar, Director of The Centre for Postcolonial Education at Southpoint School, supervises ethnographic research projects, leads explorations of the arts including Hindustani music, and guides investigations of religions of India including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.
Integrated into all phases of the program are issues related to women, the environment, economics, politics, history, arts and human geography. Within the program are two, week long, independent travel opportunities designed to allow students to explore areas of India not included in the formal itinerary and to assume responsibility for moving about and exploring India on their own in small groups. Students will be expected to contribute to the learning of the group by sharing their observations and analysis of issues discussed within journals and written papers throughout the program.
4 courses per semester/16 credits
IS 243: The Present in Delhi’s Past:
This short course has several intersecting agendas. It starts off with the simple intention of introducing all of you to the history of Delhi. Towards that end, the course will take you through much of medieval and modern Delhi, its major monumental sites, old and new neighborhoods, and touch upon historical change that the city has witnessed over the last millennium. In other words, the easy part of the course is the one that ‘investigates’ the debris of the past. But it is also useful to discuss the practice of the historian through the experience of Delhi because this is not just any other city. From the beginning of the thirteenth century, Delhi was the capital of a succession of states that controlled most of north India and, occasionally, the entire subcontinent. Historical narratives of the city are often closely interwoven with the state until little survives from the past but accounts of the power and cultural background of its rulers. Historians often link the histories of these past regimes into the seamless past of the modern nation, as do policy planners today when they sometimes theorize for the rest of the country while they are safely and comfortably ensconced in Delhi.
Excursions include: Humayun’s Tomb and the shrine of Nizam al-Din, Qutb and Bakhtiyar Kaki’s Shrine, a pre and post-colonial New Delhi neighbourhood – Saket, Agra – Sikandra, Red Fort, Itmatudaulah and The Taj, Fatehpur Sikri, Firuz Shah Kotla and the jinns, Old Delhi.
IS 241: Contemporary Studies: India
The Chennai module follows the Delhi module. Students would have already realized that India is not a monolithic country with a homogeneous culture. India is probably more culturally complex than, say, Europe. The idea is to make this clear in somewhat stark terms by counter-posing the experience – both lived and academic – of North India with that of South India. This is a heuristic device to introduce the complexity of India. However it needs to be underlined that Tamilnadu itself is not homogeneous – not to add that it does not stand in for the whole of South India. South India has other linguistic regions with equally rich and complex cultures. Students are required to be alert to the contrasts, and the theme of the final written paper will center on this. The Chennai module is packed with lectures, dancing lessons, independent field-trips and two guided trips.
IS 240: Area Culture Studies: India
The aim of this segment of the program is very specific: to educate students in Indian culture, by which is meant the family, education, socialization, gender, religions, work and leisure, environmental values, and the arts. They will look at these dimensions of India as processes that have been dynamic in the past and are marked today by modernization and globalization. The techniques they will learn are ethnography, ie., fieldwork, and interpretation through four main perspectives: cultural Marxism, developmental/modernization theory, cultural studies/deconstruction, and feminism. They will have a combination of lectures, discussions, reading, interactive visits, and guided projects in each topic, which are all connected together in a web that becomes clear over the days of study.
IS 242: Development/Environment: India
This course uniquely covers the entire semester and draws freely on subjects taught, discussed, independently investigated and researched. The course serves as a bridge that reflects on this mix of spaces and intellectual stimulation that the each program location offers. The course will culminate in a holistic student project. Students will think of a topic related to India that is meaningful to them through field research and exploration in Delhi, Chennai and Varanasi. The topic should not be geographically-specific, but should instead be about a phenomenon that is relevant in many locations throughout India.
R.K. Narayan, The Ramayana
Diana Eck, Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India
Bernard Cohn, India: The Anthropology of a Civilization
Roy C. Craven, A Concise History of Indian Art
William Dalrymple, City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children