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Tarzan and Mowgli

Tarzan of the Apes (1912) embodies the popular twentieth-century imagination of Africa as a land of primeval forests, abode of apes and pygmies shooting poison-tipped arrows under the benign protection of a white man. The jungle of Africa as imagined by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the American creator of Tarzan (who incidentally never set foot in Africa), was influenced among other things by British author Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book and the man-cub Mowgli's capers (1894). Translated into several languages, these allegorical tales of British empire in Africa and India filtered into popular consciousness through comic books and cinematic reproductions. Tarzan's and Mowgli's adventures became the most enduring globally-circulating images of interaction between white men with the non-white world. These stories open a door into the cultural world of colonial India, Africa, Britain and USA. Through them the course explores the different ways in which the human societies engaged with the ‘Other’ and, in doing so, reconstituted each other. This cultural dialogue was evident, as the students will discover, especially in the way colonialism sought to colonize the mind, body, history, culture, geography and the aesthetic sensibilities of the people of Empire, and also in the way it reconfigured the British and American sense of nationhood. The course will examine these themes in depth to bring to fore the lived ‘experience’ of the period between 1870s and the First World War.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka