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403: Mass Culture and the Public Sphere




Credits: 2
Course Requirements: Class room presentations and term paper (5000 words)

The course examines the body of work produced by the Frankfurt School to reconceptualize the linkages between the realms conventionally designated as those of 'culture' and 'politics,' a link that the cinema in our context foregrounds. The course re-traces the connections made by the Frankfurt School between industrially produced culture, group psychology, irrationality and totalitarian politics. The focus will be on methodological issues rather than specific formulations of this body of scholarship. An attempt is made to lay down a framework for the study of Indian cinema by critically analyzing the debates initiated by the work of Frankfurt School scholars. Particular emphasis will be laid on the concept of the public sphere and its possible uses in theorizing the links between 'culture' and 'politics.'

1. Critique of the enlightenment I. Kant, 'An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment', pp 17-22, from Practical Philosophy, M. Horkheimer and T. Adorno, 'The Concept of Enlightenment', pp 3-43, Dialectic of Enlightenment. M. Foucault, 'What is Enlightenment?' pp 32-50, The Foucault Reader. Ashis Nandy, 'Science as a Reason of State', pp 1-23, Nandy ed. Science, Hegemony and Violence.

2. The Group S. Kracauer, 'The Group as Bearer of Ideas', pp 143-170, from The Mass Ornament. Also from The Mass Ornament: 'The Hotel Lobby', 'The Little Shopgirls Go to the Movies' and 'Cult of Distraction' for classroom presentation. E. Fromm, 'Freedom: A Psychological Problem?' and 'The Emergence of the Individual and the Ambiguity of Freedom', pp 1-32, from The Fear of Freedom.

3. The Group S. Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. (From Civilization, Society and Religion, v 12, The Pelican Freud Library, pp 93-178) Classroom presentation: S. Freud, 'Civilisation and its Discontents'. (From Civilization, Society and Religion, v 12, The Pelican Freud Library, pp 245-340), H. Marcuse, 'The Dialectic of Civilization', pp 71-95, from Eros and Civilisation: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud.

4. Culture Industry T. Adorno/M. Horkheimer, 'The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception' pp 120-167, Dialectic of Enlightenment. T. Adorno, 'Culture Industry Reconsidered', pp 85-92, The Culture Industry. T. Adorno, 'Anti-Semitism and Fascist Propaganda', pp 218-231, from The Stars Down to Earth. T. Adorno, 'Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda', pp 114-135, from The Culture Industry.

5. Consumption and mobilization - I Ashis Nandy, "Indian Popular Cinema as a Slum's Eye View of Politics." In Ashis Nandy (ed), The Secret Politics of Our Desires: Innocence, Culpability and Indian Popular Cinema. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998. Ashis Nandy, "An Intelligent Critic's Guide to Indian Cinema." In Ashish Nandy, The Savage Freud and other essays and possible and retrievable selves. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995 K. Sivathamby, Tamil Film as a Medium of Political Communication. South Asia spl issue, 'Aspects of the Public in Colonial South Asia.' Robert Hardgrave Jr. and Anthony Niedhart. 1975. 'Film and Political Consciousness in Tamil Nadu.' Economic and Political Weekly. 10:1/2 (January). pp. 27-35. Classroom Presentation: M.S.S. Pandian, 1992. The Image Trap: M.G. Ramachandran in the Film and Politics. Delhi: Newbury Park, London: Sage.
FILM: D.G Phalke, Shrikrishna Janma
FILM: Iddaru / Iruvar (Manirathnam, 1997)

6. The city Walter Benjamin, 'Paris: Capital of the Nineteenth Century', from The Arcades Project, pp 3-26. Susan Buck-Morss, 'Dream World of Mass Culture' (pp 253-286) from The Dialectics of Seeing. Fredric Jameson, Signatures of the Visible. New York, London; Routledge (Chapter I, "Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture").

7. Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Walter Benjamin, 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', pp 219-253, from Illuminations. T. Adorno, on Benjamin's essay, letter to Benjamin, pp 120-126, Aesthetics and Politics. Classroom Presentation: W. Benjamin, 'The Author as Producer', from Understanding Brecht. Gulam mohammed Sheikh, 'Mobile Vision, Some Synoptic Comments', Journal of Arts and Ideas, No. 5. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, 'The Phalke Era: Contradictions of Traditional form and Modern Technology', Tejaswini Niranjana et. al. (eds), Interrogating Modernity: Culture and Colonialism in India, pp. 47-82.

8. Mass to public J. Habermas, 'The Bourgeois Public Sphere: Idea and Ideology' (pp 89-140) and 'The Social-Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere' (pp 141-180), from The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere.

9. Proletarian Public sphere Negt and Kluge, 'The Public Sphere as Organisation of Collective Experience', 'On The Dialectic between the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere', pp 54-95, from Public Sphere and Experience: Towards an Analysis of the Bourgeois And Proletarian Public Sphere.

10. Public sphere at large - I Miriam Hansen, 'Foreword', Negt and Kluge, Public Sphere and Experience, pp 1-53. Nancy Fraser, 'Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution of Actually Existing Democracy.' M.S.S. Pandian, 'Beyond Colonial Crumbs: Cambridge School, Identity Politics and Dravidian Movement(s).' Economic and Political Weekly (February 18-25, 1995). pp. 385-391. M.S.S. Pandian, 'Tamil Cultural Elites and Cinema: Outline of an Argument.' Economic and Political Weekly 31:15 (April 13-20, 1996). pp. 950-955. Ravi Vasudevan, 'Reflections on the Cinematic Public, 1913-1943.' Paper presented at Study Week on 'Making Meaning in Indian Cinema' (26-29 October 1995). Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.

11. Public sphere at large - II Miriam Hansen, Babel and Babylon (first four chapters) Student Presentations

12. Consumption and Mobilisation - II Chidananda Dasgupta. 1991. The Painted Face. Delhi: Roli Books (Chapter 9-The Painted Face of Politics). Madhava Prasad, M. 1999. 'Cine-Politics: On the Political Significance of Cinema in South India.' Journal of the Moving Image, no. 1 (Autumn) Student Presentations

13. Governmentality, political society M. Foucault, 'Governmentality', Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller (eds), The Foucault Effect, pp. 87-104. Partha Chatterjee, 'Democracy and the Violence of the State: A Political Negotiation of Death.' Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 2:1 (April 2001). Student Presentations

14. Indian cinema: Mass culture or popular culture? Ashish Rajadhyaksha, 'The "Bollywoodisation' of the Indian Cinema: Cultural Nationalism in a Global Arena,' Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (April 2003) For Classroom presentation: Ashish Nandy, The Tao of Cricket: On Games of Destiny and the Destiny of Games. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000. Student Presentations




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