Academic year
2021/2022 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LM2570 (AF:331701 AR:187161)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
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The course is one of the educational activities of the degree course in Languages ​​and Civilizations of Asia and Mediterranean Africa, characterizing for the students of the Indological area and Near and Middle East, but since it focuses on the South Asian modern and contemporary historical and artistic scene, it can be useful for those students whose course of study range from history to history of art, from conservation to cultural anthropology and ethnology. The course aims in fact to introduce students to the main artistic movements in the region between 19th and 21st centuries, to the poetics of the art scene's main protagonists through the analysis of their works, and reflecting on their perception by critics and by the wider public.
On the one hand, this focus intends to build and consolidate the student's knowledge of modern and contemporary India and help him to relate the South Asian artistic productions with the broader global scenario, but at the same time it aims to make students understand how the visual study can constitute a crucial support in the analysis of the modern and contemporary historical, political, religious and social phenomena of the region.
The course will provide the necessary critical instruments to understand the various aspects and issues related to the modern and contemporary artistic productions of South Asia.
The student will be able to understand and describe movements, tendencies and artistic dynamics from the second half of the XIX century to the opening of the XXI century and the underpinning ideologies; he will be able to recognize and analyze works of art within their historical and political context by taking into account their role in the identity-costruction processes. Furthermore he will be able to comprehend the role of the first Indian museum collections of modern and contemporary art in the promotion of artists and movements. The student will be requested to reflect on the political, social and religious implications of movements and tendencies development as on the exhibition policies of galleries and museums. He will be able to comprehend the importance of the visual production for the study of societies and historical periods, and deepen issues and themes in relation to the knowledges acquired during his studies; he will be also required to critically approach the theories formulated by critics and art historians.
The course does not require specific competences, the necessary background for the comprehension of the proposed analysis will be provided. Nevertheless, a good knowledge of the English language in order to access autonomously to the bibliography is necessary.
The course will move from the history of European reactions to the Indian art, from the earliest encounters of explorers with the ‘exotic’, to the more sophisticated and still incomplete appreciations of the 20th and 21st century productions. The analysis of the European perception of the South Asian artistic productions will introduce the imperial design for the ‘westernization’ of the élite and will allow to trace the artistic developments from the ‘westernization’ to the construction of the Hindu national identity. Object of closer examinations will be the artistic production during the Raj in the light of an interplay of colonialism and nationalism by addressing to those tensions, relations and contradictions that marked the advent in India of Naturalism, Primitivism and Modernism. Through the study of colonial cultural institutions and the ideologies of nationalist intellectuals and art movements, the course will discuss the role played by artistic patronage and artistic productions in the formation of the Indian nation and the 'Indian identity' until the early contemporary productions, the consecration of ‘Indian artists’ on the global artistic scenario and the institution of the Kochi Biennale. Among others the course will discuss themes such as the decline of 'Oriental art', the emergence of feminine voices in Indian art, problem, trends and tendencies concerning the musealization of modern and contemporary art in South Asia, the biennalization of art, the so-called 'Adivasi productions' and the problems connected to their definitions.
Essential readings:
Course notes and slides
Selected chapters from:
- Mitter, Partha. Much maligned monsters: A history of European reactions to Indian art. University of Chicago Press, 1992;
- Mitter, Partha. Art and nationalism in colonial India, 1850-1922: Occidental orientations. Cambridge University Press, 1994;
- Mitter, Partha. The Triumph of Modernism: India's Artists and the Avant-garde, 1922-47. Reaktion Books, 2007;
- Brown, Rebecca M. Art for a modern India, 1947-1980. Duke University Press, 2009;
- Guha-Thakurta, Tapati. The Making of a New Indian Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, c. 1850-1920. Cambridge University Press, 2017;
- Sunderason, Sanjukta. Partisan Aesthetics: Modern Art and India’s Long Decolonization. Stanford University Press, 2020.
Further readings will be indicated during the course.

Complementary readings:
A series of scientific writings useful to examine in depth the topics discussed in class and to carry out the assignments will be indicated during the course and made available on the university e-learning platform
During the course, the student will be asked to prepare a short essay on a topic related to the course contents (agreed with the teacher) and a in-dept analysis on an artist; a summary of this last work will be presented to the class in order to foment the discussion and will be evaluated; it will then be presented by each student during the final examination. Assessment will be by means of a final oral examination on the approached themes, and of the assigned works; great importance will be given to the students' attendance and active participation to lessons and discussions. The acquired knowledge, the appropriate use of technical vocabulary, the ability to critically approach the proposed readings and themes and bring them in relation to the acquired knowledges will be assessed during the final examination.
Frontal classes, complemented by lectures and conferences, students' presentations and the discussion of issues raised during the classes. The course will adopt a thematic approach. Through the analysis of movements, art objects and poetics, discussions and a critical approach will be ecouraged.
Students unable to regularly attend classes are asked to contact the professor at the beginning of the course in order to discuss the examination program.

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Poverty and inequalities" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 30/11/2021