Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

The Politics of Difference

 Overview 

The paper seeks to explore reactions to perceptions of “difference” within the social milieu as found expressed in literature. It traces the discovery of different kinds of stratification in society which may lead to hostility, aggression, defensiveness, hypersensitivity and also superiority and inferiority complexes. The “difference” may exist in terms of religion, class, colour, caste, gender etc. Invariably, this perception divides society into advantaged and disadvantaged sections, thereby creating its own politics. The texts selected for intensive study represent the existence of such “politics of difference” in diverse places and times.

The paper seeks to sensitize the students to the process of socialization that tends to entrench prejudice in the human psyche and points to the difficulty of i) recognizing and identifying one’s own prejudice and ii) extricating oneself from that position and moving towards a more balanced reaction to “difference”.

The paper is particularly relevant in today’s scenario where we find an increasing intolerance of “difference”.

The major texts proposed for study are i) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, ii) Ice-Candy-Man by Bapsi Sidhwa, iii) Kanyadaan by Vijay Tendulkar and iv) Do the Needful by Mahesh Dattani. 

 Course Objectives 

To explore some of the finest fiction and drama written in the East and West in order to initiate a line of enquiry into the social stances, attitudes and forms of socialization that they reveal.

To analyse the matrix of society and its patterns of thinking (as discovered in the texts) and discuss the nature and process of formation of prejudiced mindsets.

To examine the politics of different segments of society attempting to co-exist. 

 Teaching Methodology 

  • Lectures and a close reading of the texts in class will form the backbone of the teaching process.
  • Film adaptations of the texts will be used to reinforce understanding of the texts and to initiate group discussion.
  • Self study forms a part of the teaching pedagogy. Students will be expected to read critical commentaries and to prepare presentations on their own.

 Pre-Requisites 

NA

 Course Outline 

S.No. Topic Hours
1. To Kill a Mockingbird 
 
o   Narrative technique: Creation of the narrator’s persona and voice, Point of View
o   Socio-historical background
o   Autobiographical Elements
o   Plot
o   Characterization
o   Themes
o   Boo Radley and Tom Robinson as mockingbirds
18 hrs
2. Ice-Candy-Man
 
o   Narrative technique: Creation of the narrator’s persona and voice, Point of View
o   Socio-historical background
o   Autobiographical Elements
o   Plot
o   Characterization
o   Themes
o   Ayah and Dilnawaz as Victim and Predator
16 hrs
3. Kanyadaan
 
o   Plot
o   Characterization
o   Themes
o   Jyoti vs Arun
10
4. Do the Needful
 
Focus on the politics of the co-existence of people of different sexualities.
4