Religion & Performance in South Asia - 20 credits (RT1334)
Summary of course content
This course offers an exciting opportunity to
gain an in depth knowledge of a range of performance traditions in ancient and
modern South Asia and to explore their roles in the transmission and adaptation of
religious knowledge. Students will analyse a diverse range of media from Sanskrit
Drama (in translation) to modern televisual and cinematic re-workings of South
Asian religious materials. The course will be taught mainly by seminar and workshop
in which a broad variety of media analysis techniques will be employed in order to
gain a detailed understanding of the structure and function of a range of South Asian
performance genres that will include drama, puppetry, television and film materials.
Availability of module: currently unavailable
Necessary for: N/A
- To introduce you to the forms and functions of South Asian performative
practice ancient and modern (e.g. drama, recitation, puppetry, television and
film) as it pertains to Religious life.
- To introduce you to some of the accompanying indigenous technical and
commentarial literature on South Asian performative practice and to show
how this material can enrich your engagement with certain forms of South
Asian performative practice.
- To introduce you to the ways in which certain stories and characters are
transformed and adapted in a variety of different media
- To familiarise you with a variety of South Asian performative genres that have
an explicitly religious dimension.
- To encourage you to consider common themes (such as the ritual background
and context, the negotiation of identity and of key religious values and of the
modelling of social and cosmic structures) in the study of performative
practice as it pertains to South Asian religious life both ancient and modern.
- To encourage you to consider the role of a variety of performative media in the
transformation and adaptation of religious knowledge both within, and
potentially beyond, South Asia.
- To encourage you to consider ways in which performance studies can
stimulate critical debate in relation to more general theoretical and
methodological issues in Religious and Theological Studies (and in particular
to give particular consideration to the ongoing debate over the definition of the
term ‘religion’ itself).
- To enable you to understand how, and in what ways, performative practice is
an essential feature of human social life.
- From studying on this module, you should be able to do the following:
Knowledge and Understanding:
- identify and describe different forms of performative practice in historical and
contemporary South Asia that pertain to religious life
- identify and analyse a range of dramatic texts (in translation) as well
ethnographic, televisual and cinematic data
- synthesise technical and commentarial literatures with their performative
- compare and contrast ancient and modern South Asian performative practices
that pertain to religious life
- give examples of different performative materials and analyse their roles in
the transmission and adaptation of religious knowledge in South Asia
- recognise some of the common functions of expressive practice in South Asia
and, by implication, beyond.
reason evidence while being tolerant of other interpretations of that evidence
- critically evaluate examples of South Asian performative practice as they
pertain to religious life
- sustain a logical argument and reach a conclusion that can be defended as
- analyses and synthesis a broad range of multi-media information
- compare and contrast theoretical explanations both indigenous and academic
of South Asian performative practice as it pertains to religious life
Discipline Specific (including practical) Skills:
- empathetic representation of the views and practices of others
- awareness of the multi-faceted complexity of religious belief and practice
- demonstration of awareness of religious contributions to wider issues in
- awareness of how personal and communal identities are shaped by religio-
performative practice in South Asia
- skills in analysis and organisation
- the ability to find, manage and utilise information and data
- the ability to manage deadlines
- the ability to work as part of a team
- ability to evaluate claims
- ability to articulate clearly, orally and in writing
- skills in presenting a written argument
- flexibility and ability to assess appropriate methodical tools for specific tasks
- ability to engage empathetically with others
- ability to integrate material quickly and effectively into a manageable output
The course will be taught through lectures and seminars that focus on the close
analysis of a range of performative materials. Workshops will demonstrate to you
how one might fruitfully analyse a given example of a performance genre in relation
to its religious presuppositions and its engagement with wider issues in social and
religious life. You will be encouraged to participate in response tasks (including
experiments with actual performance practice) that will encourage a detailed and
nuanced engagement with the performative materials studied. There will be a
recurrent emphasis on the broad function of performative practice in the
transmission, adaptation and challenge of religious knowledge in South Asia
Formative – That which will contribute to the quality of your experience of the
course and which will enable you to score high marks.
Reflective Learning Journal – in which you record your readings, your
responses to film materials as well as your ideas, thoughts, critical insights,
production notes and workload planning activities and your evidence for the
development of the key skills for the course. This is a record not just of what
you have learnt but also how you learnt it.
Summative – That which will form the basis of your final mark.
The assessment will be portfolio based.
- A 3000 word academic essay chosen from a prescribed list (75%)
- A 1000 word analysis (25%) linked to a group presentation/'performance' of a
particular text or section of text.
Please take note: The academic essay mark will be reduced by 20% if the student has
not taken part in the group presentation.
Suggested book purchases
As recommended in class.