Critical Perspectives on Creative Explorations (CPCE)

Home/ Critical Perspectives on Creative Explorations (CPCE)
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSUS1EL9044

Semester and Year Offered: Winter Semester, 2015

Course Coordinator and Team: Benil Biswas and SCCE Faculty

Email of course coordinator: benil[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: No prior knowledge is required. It is also open for students of all disciplines. having done ICCE in their first /third/fifth semesters will be an advantage.

Aim: This course is meant to be an advanced level orientation and engagement with the creative practices to third year undergraduate students (sixth semester) in the context of the historical evolution of cultural practices. While the course is restrained in terms of the philosophical depths to which questions about culture and creative expressions can reach, it will not just offer provocative insights into such explorations through carefully chosen exhibits, reading material and lecture, but also introduce and prepare students to understand the disciplinary underpinnings of the creative explorations. The primary aim is not only to help students re-imagine the role of creative expressions as foundational to human civilization rather than as supplementary to other areas of material progress, but also to provide advanced training in the academic pursuits of creative explorations.

Course Outcomes: The course offers windows of perspectives into the issues of representation, narration, abstraction, affect, experimentation, interpretation and subjectivity. In other words, a short map or an exposure will be provided about the academic engagement with arts in its conceptual, creative and critical dimensions.

  1. Develop basic familiarity with various genres of Creative Expressions, namely Performance, Film, Visual Art and Creative Writing.
  2. An initiation into the cultivation of conceptual and critical awareness regarding the study of various expressions as mentioned above with a special focus on Historiography.
  3. Develop analytical skills and independent thinking to interpret creative arts and foster research skills, which is informed by a strong social quotient.
  4. Develop understanding of the concepts and issues like sign, affect, representation, narration, abstraction, affect, experimentation, interpretation and subjectivity.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

This course is intended to be completed in 56 hours of direct classroom teaching including time for assessments, presentations etc. The course is divided into four modules which will be handled by faculty members of the four streams of the School of Culture and Creative Expressions. Each Year, One Faculty will be the Chief instructor, who will be continuously present through the course. That faculty will facilitate a sense of continuity in the course, binding in the observation and perspectives glossed over various faculty through guest lectures. As the primary faculty will offer this course on rotation basis, in a given year most of the examples will explored in depth from the perspective of the discipline of the concerned chief faculty, drawing in illustrations from other creative expressions. The pattern will be similar when another faculty become the chief instructor for any given year, when the faculty will come in with examples from their disciplines and course will transacted through that understanding.

This year the primary corpus of exploration comes in from Performance Studies and Culture Studies, with Benil Biswas as the Chief Instructor. Following are the preliminary structures of the modules, each of which will run for roughly three weeks. The first two weeks will be spent in introductory lectures; the final week will be used for recapitulation of things learnt.

Key areas of Discussions

Weeks 1 and 2

  1. Cultural Studies and Its Theoretical Legacies
  2. The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception

Key Readings: (Excerpts)

  • Bennett, Tony., Grossberg, Lawrence., Morris, Meaghan. (Eds.) New Keywords: A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
  • Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (Revised Edition). New York: Oxford University Press, 1967. Reprint. 1983.
  • During, Simon. The Cultural Studies Reader (Second Edition). New York: Routledge, 1993.

Weeks 3 and 4

Module I: Performance Art

  1. What is to perform and Performance?
  2. Performance and the Social
  3. Performance as a Symbology of power in the Post-modern/Post dramatic turn.

Key Readings: (Excerpts)

  • Geertz, C. Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth Century Bali. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1980.
  • Schechner, Richard. Performance Studies: An Introduction. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.
  • Zarrilli, Phillip B. Bruce McConachie, Gary Jay Williams, Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei. (eds). Theatre Histories: An Introduction, 2nd Edition. London and New York: Routledge, 2010.
  • Lehmann, Hans Thies. Post-Dramatic Theatre. New York: Routledge, 2006

Screenings: Peter Brook’s Mahabharata (1989)

Week 5 and 6

Module II: Cinematic Art

  1. Introduction to Film Studies. What is Film Studies? Questions of Film History.
  2. Reading Film: Language of Cinema
  3. Film Genre.

Key Readings: (Excerpts)

  • John Gibbs “Elements of the Mise-en scene” Chapter 1 from Mise-en-scene: Film Style and Interpretation. London and New York. Wallflower, 2002, 1-26.
  • Rick Altman “Cinema and Genre” in Robert Stam and Toby Miller ed. Film and Theory: An Anthology. Blackwell Publishers: 2000, 157-178.
  • Paul Schraeder “Notes on Film Noir” in John Belton ed. Movies and Mass Culture. New Brunswick, New Kersey: Rutgers University Press: 1996, 153-170.
  • Screenings as Case Study: Citizen Kane/Dir. Orson Welles/Year: 1941
  • (Film Genre) Film Noir- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari/Dir. Robert Wiene/Music‎: ‎Giuseppe Becce/Year: 1920‎

Week 7

Survey of Mise-en-Scene in Various Creative Expressions

  • Pavis, Patrice. ‘Where did mise en scène come from? Origins and theory’ in Contemporary Mise en Scène: Staging theatre today. New York: Routledge, 2013.
  • Martin, Adrian. Mise en Scène and Film Style: From Classical Hollywood to New Media Art. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2014 (Excerpts)

Week 8 to 10

Module III: Visual Art Practices

  1. Conceptual paradigms of Modern (Western) Art: Realism to Conceptual Art
  2. Modern Art: Questions of Representation (Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Class)
  3. Ant-Art and Anti-Aesthetics: The Conceptual Turn

Key Readings: (Excerpts)

  • Berger, John. Ways of Seeing_ Based on the BBC Television Series. London: Penguin,1990.
  • Clark, T. J. Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.
  • Clark, T.J. The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985.
  • Pollock, Griselda. Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism, and Histories of Art, London: Routledge, and New York: Methuen, 1987.
  • Harrison, Charles. Conceptual Art and Painting: Further Essays on Art & Language, MIT Press, 2003.

Week 9 to 14

Module IV: Creative Writing

  1. The definitional aspect of literature and introduction to the various theoretical tools to understand the nature of critical mapping in literature.
  2. The role of author, the changing concepts of author in a through spatio-temporal realities and something about the act of writing.
  3. The gender aspect, the questions of feminist/ gyno-criticism and talk about the recent experimentation of gender-neutral texts.

Key Readings: (Excerpts)

  • Terry Eagleton, “What is Literature?” Literary Theory: An Introduction. London: Blackwell Publishing, 1996. (Selections)
  • Levi-Strauss, Claude. The Structural Study of Myth. The Journal of American Folklore, Vol.68, No.270, Myth: A symposium (Oct.- Dec. 1955), pp.428-444.
  • Freud, Sigmund. “Dreams of the death of persons of whom the dreamer is fond” in The Interpretation of Dreams, 1900.
  • Winterson, Jeanette. Written on the Body. London: Vintage, 1993.
  • Deborah Cameron. The Feminist Critique of Language: A Reader. London: Routledge,1998. (Selections) Luce Irigaray, Linguistic Sexes and Genders, Virginia Woolf, Women and Fiction.
  • Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination. London: Yale University Press, 1979. (Selections)

Assessment Details with weights: This course requires reading, writing, viewing performance/films (video and live). Each week we will read, respond to theoretical approaches and address some specific issues about studying various Creative Expressions.

As a 4-credit course, it will run for 2 hours per day for 2 days a week. Every fortnight, one of the 2 hours session may be conducted as a seminar/ ethnographic trip to a performance/art site, where students are required to take interviews/do AV documentation/have performance workshop.

The activities for each week will include four important steps:

  1. Lecture and assigned readings
  2. Weekly presentations
  3. Class discussion and critique of assigned readings and presentations.
  4. Discussion and analysis of video screenings and performances watched/experienced.

Tentative Assessment schedule with details of weightage:

S. No.


Date/period in which Assessment will take place



Class Presentation

End February and Early March



Presentation Write up

Turned in within a week of Presentation



Visual Arts workshop Eval.




Creative Writing workshop

Early April



Term Paper Abstract with Bibliography & Citation




Term Paper/End term exam (2500 words)

 April End



Reading List:

See above.