Dr. Shobna Nijhawan                                                                         Office hours:

Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics                             Tu 2.30-3.30

Office: Ross S570                                                                                 Th 2.30-3.30 and

Email: shobna@yorku.ca                                                                       by appointment

Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 88725




AP/HND 3600 3.0 (Fall 2013)

South Asian Literary Activism:

Women Writers and Filmmakers in South Asia and the Diaspora

Thursdays 11.30-2.30, Ross S 133


This course introduces students to literary expressions of women from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the South Asian diaspora. We begin with an investigation of the conditions under which women wrote in the early twentieth century through the writings of those women who participated in a male-dominated public sphere. We then discuss post-Independence women writers, activists and filmmakers to explore how women use literary and filmic genres as forms of artistic expression and intervention in the public sphere. Throughout the course, we discuss how women writers in the past and present day redefine not only their so-called traditional roles as wives, mothers and homemakers in light of their responsibilities as subject-citizens of their respective nation states, but also their classification as Third-World Women and their emergence as South Asian feminists.


The literary readings cover different South Asian vernaculars (Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada) in English translation or are originally written in English. Original Hindi and Urdu texts are available upon request. They include the genres of the essay, short story, autobiography, poetry and one play. The language of instruction is English. The literary readings are accompanied by scholarly essays.



Course structure, requirements and Grade distribution


The class meets once a week for three hours. The course involves interactive lecturing followed by discussion and close reading of the course materials (often in group work). There will be student presentations in selected weeks, which are also followed by discussion.


The final grade will be calculated as follows


Attendance and Participation    20%

Presentation                             5%

4 Journal entries (5% each)      20%

2 tests                                     20%

Midterm                                  15%

Final paper                             20%