Cultural History of Modern Indian Theatre

-  Prof  Bishnupriya Dutt

The course looks at the problematic of the historical narrative centred around the concept of the colonial theatre and tries to challenge its traditional construction within the modernist, colonial/imperialist and nationalist discourses.

The course broadly covers three areas: Modernity, particularly theatrical modernity within European theatre history and its revolutionary impacts; colonialism and colonial discourse in theatre and popular entertainment ; and writing national (Indian) theatre history.

The course will present examinations of a range of imperial and colonial events and periods, focusing on the unique nexus of theatrical performance as a site for the representation of Imperialism. Subsequently it will explore the paradigm shift from a narration of nationalism and theatre to writing national theatre history and nationalist negotiations as a problematic idea. Like the problems of writing a nationalist history in a historical context, theatre history needs to also look at the challenges posed by issues of nationalist identity and character, within the colonial and post colonial framework and perspectives used at various points of time both in dramatic texts and performance.

The actress, the woman and the issues of nationalism, gender and politics will be given special focus.


Reading list:

• Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse, in Partha Chatterjee Omnibus, OUP, Delhi,1999

• Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments, Colonial and Post Colonial Histories, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1993

• Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Grove Press, London, 1965

• Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, Pluto Press, London, 1968

• J. Ellen Gainor, Imperialism and Theatre, Essays on World Theatre, Drama an performance, Routledge, London and New York, 1995.

• Edward Said, Orientalism, Pantheon, New York, 1978.

• Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism; Chatto and Windus, London, 1993.

• Sumit Sarkar, Writing Social History, OUP, Delhi, 1997

• Sumit Sarkar, A Critique of Colonial India, Papyrus, Calcutta, 1985

• S.E. Wilmer (Ed.), Writing and Rewriting National Theatre Histories, University of Iowa Press, Iowa, 2004