Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bollywood Class for Fall

Religious Studies B335:  Bollywood and Beyond: Religion in South Asian Film

3 credits (Both COLL (CASE) A&H Breadth of Inquiry credit and Global Civ & Culture credit)

Tuesday/Thursday, 4:00-5:15 p.m. (SY001), Wednesday 5:45 – 8:45 p.m.(SE105)

Instructor: Rebecca J. Manring (

This course gives a nice introduction to cinema in the Indian subcontinent using a theoretical framework for understanding the ways religion plays out in both popular and less commercial films. Religion makes frequent appearances in South Asian cinema, sometimes for surprising reasons. 

Each week we will watch and discuss, in detail, one film.  Our broad topics include partition, gender, myth, fundamentalism, and the diaspora.  We will come to know a range of views on religion and its role in the lives of South Asians through film produced in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and our reading of critical articles for each film, and in the process students will also gain some cultural literacy in the region.  The films include mythologicals, social commentary, and Bollywood blockbusters, all of which have a great deal to tell us about religion in South Asia.  No prerequisites, and prior knowledge of South Asia, while helpful, is not expected.

Each week students will submit a 1-2 page response to questions raised by that week's material.  Grading will be based on these papers (30%), attendance and participation in classroom activities (30%), and two term papers (40%).

Our in-class discussions will center on the readings, and questions posed on OnCourse will help guide students' thinking about each piece.

By the end of the course students will be able to

-                      recognize and deconstruct religious tropes in South Asian film, and discuss these in religious studies critical terms

-                      discuss the role of Bollywood in perpetuating communal (religious) stereotypes, and how the diaspora furthers such goals

-                      understand the enduring trauma of the Partition of South Asia

-                      debate the cliche "Hindus and Muslims are all brothers" from various South Asian cinematic perspectives