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13133 : Queering Visual Culture in Modern India

Description: This course will examine the process of queering visual cultures in modern India, whereby it interrogates how popular visual cultures (primarily film and advertisements) have upheld normative regimes of gender/sexuality as well as how they have subverted, and ‘queered’ these regimes. It also asks how expressions of gender and sexuality have been shaped by the contingent and contentious politics of postcolonial India. This course will map three kinds of gender/sexuality visualities in Indian popular culture—ideal woman/femininity, men and masculinities, and queer identity and sexuality. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which films intervene in and shape histories of gendered representation, notably with regard to the figure of the courtesan or ‘tawa’if’ as mediated through blockbuster films. Similarly, we will look at how specific political and social moments construct particular gendered or sexualized representations. These include: the figure of the “mother” during India’s nation-building years (1950s); the trope of the “angry young man” set against the country’s emergency-era politics and massive unemployment (1970s); and the sexualized male hero, as expressed by the superstar Shah Rukh Khan in his films and adverts (2000s). For the final part of the course, we will consider queer visualities, and explore how gay and trans characters and identities have been represented in a more contemporary sense.

Instructor: TBD

Offered: Spring 2022

Category: Theory

Cluster(s): Digital Moving Image