Undergraduate Course: Timeless Heroines: Feminism and Sociability in South Asian Art (HIAR10184)
|School||Edinburgh College of Art
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||The course offers an introduction to the issues around gender and identity in South Asian art, capturing the key themes and debates in the discipline. The course is structured as a series of two-hour seminars, each session based on a particular idea/concept spanning antiquity to the present.
From fertility icons in pre-historic South Asia to the central role of the great goddess in temple sculpture, the image and idea of femininity and female empowerment has been a constant in South Asian art. The figure of the heroine has played a central role in poetics serving as an inspiration for innovative literary and painted works in early modern South Asia. In parallel, the framing of royal women in the zenana (separate living quarters for courtly women), in Indo-Islamic court culture offers another potent means of examining gender relations. The diffusion of gender identities is also a pervasive undercurrent in the arts of the region, which will be considered in the discussions. Sociability, on the other hand, has been a relatively neglected topic considered in relation to gender in the literature to date. The course will bring focus to the wider existence of gender identities and relations within their cultural and social settings, illuminating the contexts that enabled enduring ideas to survive into the present day. Using key figurative ideas pertaining to female identity in South Asian art such as the divine conception of Devi, the great goddess; the Nayika, the female heroine in poetics, or the courtesan, the cultivated court performers, each seminar will consider the thematic approaches within the subject area that inform the art of South Asia. Through this course, students will have exposure to the wider implications of feminist and gender studies on art outside the western world, specifically in the context of South Asia. They will gain experience with evaluating a range of visual material including sculpture, manuscripts, and photography. They will be able to consolidate concepts of Indian and South Asian art, and apply these towards an advanced specialism in the subject area.
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Formative Assessment Hours 1,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Revision Session Hours 1,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||1 x 2500 word essay 50% - submitted weeks 8-10
1 x 2-hour exam 50%
||Students are given feedback on FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT as follows:
You will be asked to prepare a presentation to deliver to the class and to submit a short (c.300 word) summary of your presentation with references. You will receive verbal feedback by email or through a meeting afterwards. The presentation will demonstrate knowledge and understanding that will contribute to your performance in your summative assessment.
SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: There will be an essay and an exam, equally weighted. Written feedback on student essays will be provided, in addition to a one-to-one meeting towards the end of semester.
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)||Theory exam||2:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate skills of visual analysis and interpretation by looking in detail at non-western art.
- Analyse the way in which concepts of feminism can be applied to South Asian art.
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of social and cultural contexts within non-western art.
- Critically examine the ways in which gender and sociability are relevant to global art history.
- Apply developed skills of analysis, communication, and organisation.
|Vidya Dehejia, Ed. Representing the Body: Gender Issues in Indian Art (1998)|
Vidya Dehejia, Devi: Female Divinity in South Asian Art (1999).
Mrinalini Sinha. Colonial Masculinity: The 'Manly Englishman' and the 'Effeminate Bengali' in the Late Nineteenth Century. Manchester University Press (1995).
Ruby Lal, Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World (2005)
Ruby Lal, Empress (2018)
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Visual and critical analysis; Clear thinking and the development of an argument; Independent research; Presentation and communication skills; Organisation and planning.
|Keywords||Gender,Identity,South Asia,Feminism,Court Culture,Indian Art,Goddess,Nautch,Zenana
|Course organiser||Dr Yuthika Sharma
|Course secretary||Mrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460