This week in brief

Monday, January 28
No events scheduled.

Tuesday, January 29
11:30 – 11:50 AM – Reflections
Megan Carlson, '08
Acension Chapel, Founders Hall

Wednesday, January 30
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Reading
Group: Responding to Student
Reading / Writing Center

Thursday, January 31
2:00 – 2:30 PM – Dean's Office
Walk-In Time with Jeff
Office of the Dean
Founders, 116

Friday, February 1
3:30 PM – Friday Conversations
Week 7 Seminar, an informal
discussion by and for faculty
Library 2nd Floor, south

Saturday, February 2
No events scheduled.

Sunday, February 3

2:00 PM – Quad CIty Symphony
Centennial Hall














Volume 5, Issue 17• January 28, 2008


Friday, February 1, 4:00 p.m. (refreshments at 3:30)
Week Seven Seminar, an informal discussion by and for faculty (Friday Conversations).

Library 2nd floor, south
In honor of From Parchment to Pixels: The Year of the Book, the Week Seven Seminar of winter term takes as its topic the decline of reading. Kristin Douglas will lead a discussion based on the article "Twilight of the Books" ( New Yorker, Dec. 24, 2007) in which Caleb Crain speculates on what life will be like if people stop reading. In the article, Crain refers to the book Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf, an account of the history and biology of reading. All faculty are welcome. Article is on Moodle under "Library/Week Seven Seminar."

Thursday, March 6 – Saturday, March 8, 2008
Faculty Seminar: Bollywood
The University of Chicago Center for Teaching and Learning
Contact Mary Koski in Academic Affairs by February 1, 2008 if you would like to attend.

Western media has begun to pay more attention to India as its prominence in world affairs grows, yet this massive nation with its diverse population and complicated history continues to mystify the Western imagination. Images from Bollywood—glitzy stars, lavish musical numbers, sentimental plotlines—represent the alienation as well as the fascination that stand in the way of Western understanding of India. This conference approaches the cultural divide by bringing scholarly focus to Bollywood culture.

Bollywood is India 's largest film industry and the largest in the world by volume, with over 3 billion tickets sold annually. Though the term is sometimes used to refer to Indian film as a whole, the designation “Bollywood” (a portmanteau of “ Bombay ” and “ Hollywood ”) is specific to the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai, only one branch of India 's multilingual film production. Nevertheless, for much of its history Bollywood has occupied the place of “national” cinema in India . It is, furthermore, the only one of India 's cinemas with a significant international presence; Bollywood is the cinematic face India presents to the world.

In its early years, Bollywood turned out films with a social message, chiefly family melodramas that idealized the homeland and generated optimism about the nation. In the 1970s as national confidence plummeted and Indira Gandhi declared an “Emergency” for the country, angry young men took over the screen. In the 80s and 90s, increasing violence and a new emphasis on conspicuous consumption caused many critics to write off Bollywood, but today scholars are turning back to Bollywood to ask what it can tell us about cinema, globalization, and India .

Today's Bollywood is a product of India 's economic liberalization and the globalization that accompanied it. A decade ago, national deregulation threatened Bollywood's profits with loosened controls on piracy and increased competition from television. Bollywood responded with multimedia marketing (particularly in the form of movie songs), increased star presence (often two or three megastars appear in the same film), and sexier characters and plots. The influence of Hong Kong cinema, MTV, and global advertising now appears in glossy production and rapid-cut editing. The Indian diaspora—20 million strong—has long been a significant market for Bollywood. More recently, its mark on the industry has become visible in a spate of plotlines about non-resident Indians, or NRIs, and their struggles outside the homeland. Meanwhile Bollywood has begun to make inroads into Hollywood 's territory, with an Oscar nomination for Lagaan (2001), the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams (2002), and popular crossover films like Monsoon Wedding (2001) and Bride and Prejudice (2004).

For some commentators, Bollywood enables an “imagined community” for India and its diaspora; for others, it signifies the stain of global capitalism on a once-indigenous national form. Most agree, however, that Bollywood remains understudied by the Western academy. This seminar offers a remedy, combining the perspectives of specialists in Indian culture, film, art, religion, and music to generate a new understanding of Bollywood.

Presenters will include: Rochona Majumdar, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Steven Collins (South Asian Languages and Civilizations), Kaley Mason (Music), Karin Zitzewitz (Social Sciences), and Virginia Wexman (English, Emerita, University of Illinois at Chicago )