21H.575J | Fall 2006 | Undergraduate

Women in South Asia from 1800 to Present


Short Essays

You are required to write 2 short critical essays (5-6 pages each). The essays should follow a certain theme (to be discussed in class beforehand) have an argument supported by evidence from the text. I will give out topical questions for each paper beforehand. The essays should be typed in 12-point fonts, double-spaced and have the usual 1 inch margin. Handwritten submissions may also be made if they are neat and legible. Please note the due dates for each essay. Late submissions are strongly discouraged and will accrue penalties.

Sample Short Essay Topic

Katherine Mayo’s Mother India

Who is ‘Mother India’? How does Katherine Mayo use the condition of Indian women to justify imperialism in the 1920s? How are these justifications and their responses different from the 19th century? In your opinion, what are the causes for these differences?

N.B. Your answer should be supported by evidence from your current readings. Please feel free to bring in arguments and evidence from any of the readings from previous classes as well.

Research Paper and Presentation

You are required to write a 10-12-page historical research paper on a topic pertaining to South Asian women. I will hand out some suggestions, but you are free to come up with your own topical theme after discussing it with me. A sign-up sheet will be passed out during the third week of the semester for individual appointments to discuss your chosen topics. The research paper should include primary sources and be supported by secondary readings. I will work with you in helping you find some of these sources.

Individual presentations based on the research paper are scheduled during the last two weeks of the semester. You will be given 10 minutes to present the topic of your paper and talk about the different themes that you examine in that paper.

Topics for Final Research Project

Given below are some broad topics for you think about before you schedule your first meeting. Your research paper will be on a more specific topic within one of these broad themes. There is no restriction on the number of people who can work on one topic. For example all of you may independently decide to work on ‘Gandhi’s ideas about Indian Women.’ However, it would be great if we could work on different topics based on your interests.

  1. British views on the condition of women in colonial India
  2. Women in the nationalist movement
  3. The ‘Mother India’ controversy
  4. Gandhi’s ideas about Indian women: Traditional or modern?
  5. Gendering the partition of 1947
  6. Representation of South Asian women in films: Dynamic or static?

I will pass out a sign-up sheet in class tomorrow. Possible meeting times are given below. I will meet with you individually and help you locate possible resources on your chosen topic. I estimate it will take 20-30 minutes per meeting.

Internet Assignment

From the beginning of the semester, you should identify a contemporary Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Sri Lankan e-newspaper, and follow their coverage on any topical issues on women of that country. You will be required to submit an Internet assignment where you will provide a two to three page analysis of the current news items you have been following for at least six weeks.

Please see related resources for listing of relevant online newspapers.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2006