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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Timeless Heroines: Feminism and Sociability in South Asian Art (HIAR10184)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe 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.
Course description 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.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( History of Art 2A Reason, Romance, Revolution: Art from 1700 to 1900 (HIAR08027) AND History of Art 2B From Modernism and the Avant-Gardes to Postmodernism and Globalisation (HIAR08028)) OR ( Architectural History 2a: Order & the City (ARHI08006) AND Architectural History 2b: Culture & the City (ARHI08007))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate skills of visual analysis and interpretation by looking in detail at non-western art.
  2. Analyse the way in which concepts of feminism can be applied to South Asian art.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of social and cultural contexts within non-western art.
  4. Critically examine the ways in which gender and sociability are relevant to global art history.
  5. Apply developed skills of analysis, communication, and organisation.
Reading List
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)
Additional Information
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.
KeywordsGender,Identity,South Asia,Feminism,Court Culture,Indian Art,Goddess,Nautch,Zenana
Course organiserMiss Michelle Foot
Course secretaryMr Nathan Ross-Hammond
Tel: (0131 6)51 5880
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