Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Overview

This course is an introduction to modern Indian culture and society through films, documentaries, short stories, novels, poems, and journalistic writing. The principal focus is on the study of major cultural developments and social debates in the last sixty five years of history through the reading of literature and viewing of film clips. The focus will be on the transformations of gender and class issues, representation of nationhood, the idea of regional identities and the place of the city in individual and communal lives. The cultural and historical background will be provided in class lectures. The idea is to explore the “other Indias” that lurk behind our constructed notion of a homogeneous national culture.

Required Textbooks

Narayan, R., and M. Gorra. The Guide: A Novel. Penguin Classics, 2006. ISBN: 9780143039648.

Bhagat, C. 2 States: The Story of My Marriage. Rupa & Co., 2009. ISBN: 9788129115300.

Choudhury, C. India: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. Whereabouts Press, 2010. ISBN: 9781883513245.

Course Requirements

  1. Students are expected to attend all classes. Unexcused absences will automatically lower your grade.
  2. Students are expected to be prepared and give thoughtful participation in class discussions.
  3. Students will be required to write four 1 page (maximum length; can be single spaced) response papers on any of the assignments (due before the reading or film is discussed); one 3 page comparison paper (midterm) on an assigned topic; and a final 8 page paper on a particular Indian city/region and analyze a text and film associated with it. Late papers will lose a third of the grade for each overdue day. Details about the paper requirements will be discussed in class.
  4. Students will be required to make a 15 minute in-class presentation on their final paper topics.


The following table gives a breakdown of the grading for the course.

Attendance, punctuality, and class participation 20%
Response papers 20%
Midterm 20%
Class report 10%
Final paper 30%