Other links:

Other links:

History, Novels and Cinema

Can History be literary genre? Can a historian combine literary prose while retaining a commitment to her sources? Does this combination diminish the rigor of the craft? The dominant mode of historical writing still shies away from seeing history as a literary genre. This stems fundamentally from a disavowal of language as anything other than a vehicle of communication; a belief than use of anything other than dry prose diminishes the scientific rigor of the discipline; and a refusal to think of historian as ‘writer’ – a label reserved for novelists. This course however makes a case for History as creative non-fiction, a literary art form. Critics may still raise the question why should history be written so? The answer to this question lies in the politics of our times. History is now being communicated in wide variety of ways which includes narrative nonfiction, magazine articles, op-eds, museum exhibitions, policy documents, blogs, podcasts, fiction and nonfiction film, twitter feeds, and memes. The accessibility of these modes of narration gives them popular currency but also opens them up to political exploitation. The historians in order to contend with fake and distorted versions of the past therefore need to widen their ‘writing repertoire’ to include other modes of narration. This course introduces the students to works of narrative historians (such as Jill Lepore, Saidiya Hartman, James Goodman, Louis Masur and Stephen Berry) combined with literary practice which will be woven around conceptual issues (emplotment, vantage point, time, space, testimony, memory, moral evaluations and lost histories) that go into crafting historical narratives. Each segment will be taught with the help of novels (Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Bronze Sword of Tehsildal Thengphakri, A Sense of an Ending, Karukku, When I Hid My Caste, Gravel Heart) and cinema (Truman Show, Rashomon, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Judgment at Nuremberg, Amistad and The Motorcycle Diaries). The semester-long assignment will be re-writing of a historical text in a narrative form interspersed with weekly writing exercises on writing tweets, Wikipedia entries, podcasts, infographics, policy briefs, and op-eds etc.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka