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Course Information

Instructor Info:Uditi Sen
Office Extension x5598
TA Info:Mei Li Isaacson
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Monday
06:30 PM - 09:30 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 104

This course immerses students in a creative process of hearing, interpreting and performing voices from the past. The voices are of ordinary people, describing their extra-ordinary experiences of living through the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Through a combination of creativity and historical inquiry, students explore what it means to 'hear' a voice from a different culture and time. In the first part of the course, students will engage with documentaries and historical writings to contextualize the people's memories of partition. In the second part, students learn about the interpretative methods used by oral historians and use them to develop their own method of 'hearing'. The final and culminating part of the course conceptualizes hearing as an active and creative process. Students use creative formats, such as acting, dance, movement etc. to reinterpret and perform voices from the past. No prior knowledge of South Asia is necessary, but some experience or comfort with performance and creativity is recommended.


Course Objectives:

The primary aim of this course is to explore how performance of historical events and embodied exploration of particular historical experiences can deepen our understanding of history and add depth to our appreciation of a different cultural perspective. In order to achieve this overall goal, this course sets for students smaller goals of developing specific academic and creative skills and abilities that are described below. 

  • Develop critical thinking, reading and writing skills through a close analysis of people’s memories of partition of India.
  • Develop research skills through guided exploration of the historical context of particular interviews and people’s memories.    
  • Develop a knowledge base of the interpretative methods used by historians to analyse reminiscences.
  • Develop analytical skills by drawing upon a critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of oral history methodology to hear and interpret particular interviews.
  • Develop the skills of group-work through close collaboration with peers in the creative process of reinterpretation of interviews
  • Develop the ability to embody historical subjects from a different time and culture through a series of exercises designed to develop performance skills
  • Develop the creative ability to write and perform short monologues and/or scenes. 
  • Conceive and complete project-based work in which the different sets of skills, of historical research, critical analysis and embodied performance come together.
Evaluation Criteria:

This course will include a broad range of assignments that will include reading, watching documentaries, hearing and transcribing interviews, writing short analytical essays and composing monologues and scenes. While the final assignment will be creativity and performance oriented, regular reflexive write-ups on the creative process and on the synergy between history and performance will be an integral part of the course. Since step by step progression is vital for this course ALL ASSIGNMENTS MUST BE COMPLETED IN TIME. Evaluation will give greater weight to regular attendance, regular engagement with the course and the willingness to explore and experiment and make progress rather than just the quality of the final product.

Written Assignments:  All written assignments are due for online submission on Moodle, within the specific date and time listed. I do not accept late papers without prior permission.  Papers must be typed, double-spaced and proofread, with page numbers.  You should always spell-check and proofread your assignments before turning them in.

Evaluations: To receive an evaluation for the course, you must complete all assignments on time and make satisfactory progress on the course learning goals.  Class participation is at the heart of this course and I expect students to come prepared. Evaluation will give greater weight to regular attendance, regular engagement with the course and the willingness to explore and experiment and make progress rather than just the quality of the final product.

If you miss more than two class meetings without a good reason, you WILL NOT get an evaluation.  I do not give Incompletes unless negotiated before assignment due dates, including the final portfolio.

Additional Info:

All assigned articles, book chapters, documentaries and interviews assigned as homework are available online through the course web site.  The two text-books assigned are essential for an understanding of the historical context without which neither the analysis of interviews nor the composition of authentic monologues/scenes is possible. Students are encouraged to buy and read both.

1.      Khan, Yasmin, The Great Partition, Yale University Press, 2008.

2.      Talbot, Ian and Singh, Gurharpal, The partition of India, Cambridge; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2009.