Rural through Art, Literature and Films

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS3DP4032

Semester and Year Offered: Semester 3

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Manolagayatri Kumaraswamy

Email of course coordinator:


Course Objectives/Description:

This course familiarizes the students with ‘the Indian rural’ through literature, art, and cinema. The idea is to depict the diversity and multiplicity in ‘the Indian rural’ through various media. From depicting oppression, marginalization, complexity, to representing celebration, happiness, and contentment, the objective of the course is neither to consolidate the rural as a site of marginalization nor to eulogize it. The course aims to dismantle the binary of the rural and the urban as conventional and modern on the one hand, and as idyllic and alien on the other.

It focuses on Practice-as-Research as a methodology drawing on insights from creative practice, art and process work. Through the sometimes messy and amorphous quality of the creative process, it becomes possible to de-­‐polarise positions and break down binaries as new ways of experiencing material and thought comes to manifest. While starting points for the research are varied, there is an openness to allow what emerges from the practice to create the framework of the research output. PaR ‘employ variations of reflective practice, participant observation, performance ethnography, ethno-­‐drama, biographical/ autobiographical/ narrative inquiry, and the inquiry cycle from action research. The course will also look at the concepts of time, labour, money and value as distinct categories of experiencing a sense of the rural. The focus of sensing the rural through art will also unfold in terms of a working with sensations and embodied experience through creative practice and self-­‐reflection.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Through creative practice enable the experience of the rural to alter or influence research paradigms and outputs.
  2. Enhance research capacities of scholars through resourcing creative potential, lateral thinking and artistic production.
  3. Enable interconnections between experience, theory and practice
  4. Explore interior scapes of the researcher through creative practice as a means to manifest unconscious connections in the research material
  5. Introduce scholars to PaR as a methodology well suited to research in Development Practice.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Session 1: Sensing the Rural: The first session explores how art facilitates as an experience of the rural by highlighting its relevance for understanding the Rural through experience, theory, research, creative practice, self reflection.

Session 2: Introduction to Practice-as-Research: The second module begins with conceptual engagements across the binaries of Knowing and Doing, to trace the emergence of PaR in Academia and in Epistemic concerns etc. It further dwells into the intersections with earlier practice-­‐based research methods and traditional qualitative methods to highlight its relevance to immersion experience and Development Practice.

Session 3: Immersion as Sensation The third session deals with workshops and performances of embodied practice as research, role of time, taste, smell, touch, spatial orientation, sound, sight, landscapes and soundscapes in knowing and how they embedded in writing, reflection and thinking.

Session 4: Mediatising the rural : The third module looks at how ICT has changed the ways of archiving the rural by looking at the relevance of media technology as reflected in the case of People’s Archive of Rural India and some creative apps developed for rural needs such as Follow the Sheep etc. This allows students to understand role of documentation and mediatisation in the research process

Session 5: The rural in Literature: The final module looks as debates in Rural Development through Tagore and Gandhi through collective readings of Red Oleander OR Raktakarabi, engaging with Tagore and Gandhi’s debate on development through The wheel versus red oleander.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Presentation or written submission interweaving at least two of the prescribed texts and that engages with a theoretical or methodological issue in ParR. Students are strongly encouraged to articulate this in the context of development practice. (1 Credit) OR Class room participation in discussion and practical work may be assessed for 1 credit as well.
  • Group & Individual Creative/ Practical presentations where students will be invited to form group of 3-­‐5 members and find intersections in their immersion experience to create 15-­‐25 minute presentations that include material from their field work in the form of video, photography, audio as well factual and experiential data gathered. They may choose to do this as an individual assignment as well. (2 Credits)
  • 3500-­‐5000 word Essay documenting and critically assessing the creative process within appropriate theoretical and conceptual frameworks and information related to their research area. (1 Credit)

Reading List:

  • Stromsted, T. (2007) P. Pallaro, (Ed.) Authentic Movement: Moving the body, moving the self, being moved. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp. 202-220.
  • Ahmed, S. (2006). Orientations: Toward a queer phenomenology. GLQ: A journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 12(4), 543-574.
  • Cull, L. (2012). Performance as philosophy: Responding to the problem of ‘application’. Theatre Research International, 37(1), 20-27.
  • Fleishman, M. (2012). The difference of performance as research. Theatre Research International, 37(1), 28-37.
  • Ramazanoglu, C., & Holland, J. (2002). Feminist methodology: Challenges and choices. Sage Publication: U.S.A.
  • Spatz, B. (2015). What a body can do. Routledge: London
  • Bourriaud, N., Pleasance, S., Woods, F., & Copeland, M. (2002). Relational aesthetics (p. 44). Dijon: Les presses du réel.
  • Roberts, E., & Townsend, L. (2016). The contribution of the creative economy to the resilience of rural communities: exploring cultural and digital capital. Sociologia Ruralis, 56(2), 197-219.
  • Jones, A. R. (1981). Writing the Body: Toward an Understanding of" L'Ecriture Feminine". Feminist Studies, 7(2), 247-263.
  • Cutaya, M. (2009). Situating Art: For a Rural Context. Circa, (127), 30-35.
  • Kester, G. H. (1999). The art of listening (and of being heard): Jay Koh's discursive networks. Third Text, 13(47), 19-26.