[Please note the date of this course and its syllabus;
it is likely it has NOT been updated; but serves as models for future syllabi.]

Syllabus - University of Virginia - Spring 1998
Net Resources

Gender and Media in South Asia
Instructor: Ruhi Grover. Email was: rgm2k@virginia.edu

Course number: Drama 283
Location/Time: Cabell 241 / T & Th. 9:30-10:45

The interplay and contradiction between the images and the reality of gender identity in South Asia continues to raise concerns of representation. This course deals with the construction of gender identities, and explores some essentializing categories--traditional vs. modern, oppression vs. liberation--that have been used to understand the position of women (and men) in South Asia. One way of doing this is by examining the way in which media--both visual and print--has treated gender, and the extent to which it has been able to disseminate the "truth" or capture the "real lives" of women in the economic and social sphere. In sum, this course highlights how images and representations of gender illustrate a South Asian understanding of itself.

*Class participation (20 %)
* Midterm (30 %)
* Final - A 10-page paper on any issue that is discussed in class. The students willhave to refer to relevant films, newspapers, and magazines for this paper (50 %)
This will also include a class presentation of the final paper.


  • Mrinal Pande. The subject is woman. New Delhi, Sanchar Publishing House, 1990.

  • Meera Kosambi ed. Women's oppression in the public gaze: an analysis of newspaper coverage, state action and activist response. Bombay, Research Center for Women's University, 1994

  • Ammu Joseph & Kalpana Sharma eds. Whose News? The Media and Women's Issues. Delhi, Sage Publications, 1994

  • Prabha Krishnan & Anita Dighe. Affirmation and Denial: Construction of Feminity on Indian Television. Delhi, Sage Publications, 1990.

  • Vimal Balasubrahmanyan. Mirror Image: The Media and the Women's Question. Bombay, Centre for Education and Documentation, 1988.
  • Classes --

    January 15: Introduction: problematizing gender and media

    Jan. 20: Women in media
       Reading: Mrinal Pande, The subject is woman. New Delhi, Sanchar Pub. House, 1990
       Arjun Appadurai & Carol Breckeridge, "public modernity in India," CR
    [CR= Clemons Library Reserve materials]

    Jan. 22: Why media?
       Reading: Usha Reddi, "Media and Culture in Indian Society: Conflict or Co-operation?" CR
       Graham Murdoch, "Communications and the cost of modernity." CR

    Jan. 27: The visual medium: cinema
       women, nation, and the outsider in Indian cinema
       film clippings: mother India; coolie; saaz (based on Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle)

    Jan. 29: Discussion of the films and readings
       Readings: Leela Rao, "woman in Indian films - a paradigm of continuity & change;"
        Rosie Thomas, "melodrama and the negotiation of morality mainstream hindi films."
       Aruna Vasudeva, "The woman: vamp or victim"
       Rita Manchanda, "hype and heroines: is the new..."

    Feb. 3: The public and the private
       Film: Bandit Queen

    Feb. 5: Discuss the film
        Readings: Molly Heskel, "From reverence to rape," pp. 505-534, CR
       Madhu Kishwar, "The Bandit Queen," Manushi, no. 84, Sept.-Oct. 1994, CR

    Feb 10: S. Asian women filmmakers abroad
       Gurinder Chadha
       What do you call an Indian woman who's funny?" VHS8431
       Interview with Mira Nair, Newstrack, April 1992

    Feb. 12: Documenting success stories
       film: Kamala and Raji: working women of SEWA

    Feb. 17: Zooming into the private
       Dadi's family

    Feb. 19: Discuss the documentaries
       Readings: SEWA: Women in Movement, CR

    Feb. 24: Television in a new avatar
       Newstrack: Jan. 1990, "Media: unmuzzling Doordarshan and AIR"
       Newstrack: May 1992, "Media Revolution: Glasnost at last"
       Readings: A. Rajagopal, "The rise of national programming: the case of Indian television." CR
       Arvind Rajagopal, "Mediating Modernity" CR

    Feb. 26: Construction of feminity on television
       Reading: Prabha Krishnan and Anita Dighe, Affirmation and Denial
       Mary Ellen Brown, "Introduction: Feminist Cultural Television Criticism - Culture, Theory and Practice," "Conclusion: Consumption and Resistance - The Problem of Pleasure." CR

    March 3: Is the media bias?
       Readings: "re-marketing the whore," "hidden face of patriarchy, "struggling for space," "action for change"
       John Corner, "television in theory," CR
       * Mid-term will be distributed in class

    March 5: Reading between the lines: newspaper coverage
       Reading: Whose News? Dowry, Rape, the Shah bano Controversy
       Newstrack: August 89 "final push over the edge," TOI Sesquicentennial

    * mid-term papers due

    March 17: Newspaper coverage (continued)
       Female Foeticide, Roop Kanwar Tragedy

    March 19: Magazine scene
       India Today, Cosmopolitan, Stardust, Manushi, (Kanwal to send magazines)
       Reading: "Birthing Terrible Beauties," EPW, vol. 26, no. 43, 1991

    March 24 : Dalda 13: First woman photo-journalist in India

    March 26: Women in media
       Newstrack: June 1990: Kiran Bedi, Shabana Azmi
       Newstrack: Oct. 1991: Shobha De
       Sept. 1992: Medha Patekar

    March 31: Urvashi Butalia, "English textbooks, Indian Publishers." CR

    April 2: Advertizing a "product."
       Reading: Prabha Krishnan, "Applauding Servility: Images of women in advertisements." Nandini Prasad, "Commercial advertising and portrayal of women." CR Read Times of India sesquicentennial publication of advertisements.

    April 7: Radio: A woman's place on the air?

    April 9: Changing Media history through women's history

    April 14: Students will present their papers

    April 16:    - do-

    April 21:   - do-

    April 23:   - do-

    April 28: Summing up: Communication and the public sphere
       Reading: John Keane, "Structural transformations of the public sphere." CR

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    [Originally (1999-2000?) located at as a University of Virginia Center for South Asian Studies Teaching Resource]

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