Topics in South Asian Literature and Culture >> Content Detail



Course Overview

This class is for students at all levels. Whereas those who have had no prior experience of South Asian literature and cinema will get an exposure to a new world-view, those who have already been exposed to it will find and articulate new ways of approaching and interpreting the material. Class taught in English, all readings are English translations of the original texts. All films are subtitled in English.

This is a "communication-intensive" subject; we will pay special attention to honing the students' oral and written communication skills, through a strong emphasis on class discussion, oral presentations and guided written work. Students will be required to write three 7-8 page papers: they will write each paper, which will be evaluated, corrected and commented upon carefully, and they will have a week to prepare a revised version before submitting it to the instructor. The class will also be regrouped into units that will take turns at leading discussions.

Course Requirements

  1. You are expected to attend all classes, as class discussion is crucial. Any unexcused absence will automatically lower your grade.
  2. The class will be divided into small groups. Each group will be responsible for "teaching" one class: that is to say, they will (with the help of the instructor, if needed) choose topics to present to the class and lead the discussions. The group will meet to discuss a teaching plan, and prepare "thought questions" on the assigned reading and visual material the course will cover. This will count as your "oral presentation" and will be graded by the instructor.
  3. You will be required to write three papers of 7-8 pages each. The days when they are due are marked clearly on the syllabus. The essays will be corrected, discussed with you and handed back quickly and you will have a week from then to hand in your final version. Unless arranged with the instructor ahead of time, late submissions will be penalized with a lowered grade. In addition, you will write a couple of paragraphs every week in response to the film you have seen or the text you have read and you will email it to your instructor before coming to class. These will be your first reactions to the text, and the writing can be relatively informal. These "responses" will not be graded; these are aimed to assist you in organizing your thoughts for the class discussion to follow.
  4. You will be expected to come to class fully prepared to discuss that week's material: that is, you will have read the day's assigned text, and/or seen the assigned visual material, before coming to class. Assignments are posted very clearly in the calendar. Any change in the syllabus during the course of the semester will be duly announced in class. If you are absent that day it is your responsibility to make sure you are aware of what you need to prepare.
  5. All readings and selections from anthologies, newspapers and magazines will be photocopied and supplied by the instructor to the class. You will be expected to pay for all the photocopying expenses.
  6. Most of the films for this course will be shown outside class.
    The dates and venue for these screenings will be announced on the first day of class. Short excerpts from other visual and audio material will be presented in class.

Please Note: Essays submitted late without prior permission from the instructor will be penalized by one full letter grade. Acceptance of late papers will remain subject to instructor's discretion. Always keep a printed copy of your essay.

If at any point, you should feel the need for further discussion to clarify any issue, the instructor will meet with you outside class.


Attendance, Punctuality, and Class participation20%
Class Discussion and Oral Presentation40%


Lec #TOPICSKey Dates
1Introduction: Why South Asia?
I. Diversity and Difference: Stories from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
2Stories from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan
3Stories from Sri Lanka
II. Politics and History: A Tale of Turmoil
4Stories from Pakistan
5Stories from IndiaPaper I due
6Stories from Sri Lanka (cont.)
7Stories from India (cont.)Revised paper I due
III. Gender and Society: Margins and Center
8Stories from Bengali and IndiaPaper II due
9Stories from India (cont.)
10Stories from BangladeshRevised paper II due
11Stories from Bengali and India (cont.)
IV. Transition and Social Change: Past, Present and Future
12Stories from Bengali and India (cont.)Paper III due
13Stories from India and Pakistan
14Stories from Bengali and India (cont.)Revised paper III due


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