Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: The Camera in South Asia: From Colonial Photography to Bollywood (Session A)
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday | 10:00 - 12:00PM
This course will investigate the diverse iterations of photography and cinema in South Asia, from the introduction of the camera in the mid-nineteenth century to the present.
We will begin with the early history of the camera in the colony. Remaining cautious not to impose a western history of photography on to its development in South Asia, we will investigate the technology’s transcultural appeal. In other words, is photography a standardized technology or is it “vernacularized” as it is assimilated into different cultures? In addition, we will study the development of cinema—from early actuality films to modern Hindi cinema—to explore its presence in local and transnational cultural spaces. We will also discuss different ways of conceptualizing the relationship between photography, cinema, and older visual practices such as painting and theater. And finally, we will explore the contemporary media landscape of India, in which traveling bioscopewallahs or traveling showmen who continue to use a hand cranked silent-era projector, avant-garde photography, and popular cinema coexist in the same world.