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Assessed Essay Questions


Essays due by Tuesday, by 12 noon, Week 2, Term 1.

Late submissions will incur a penalty of 5 marks per day.

Note: Please consult the Department website and/or the Student Handbook for guidance on essay submission on Tabula and penalties for late submission.

Please also make note of the Departmental regulations on Plagiarism.

For all bibliographic citations, primary and secondary, use the MLA Guidelines, a link to which is provided on the Department webpage for Undergraduate Studies.

Choose any one of the following and and write a 2,500-word essay. Third year students are expected to devise their own topic in consultation with the tutor. They may draw on these for inspiration.

  1. 'I wish to live neither in Pakistan nor in India. I wish to live in a tree' (Saadat Hasan Manto, ‘Toba Tek Singh’). Write an essay exploring the fetish of the border in demarcating national, religious and gendered identities in any one of the following: Manto, ‘Khol Do’; Kamleshwar, ‘Kitne Pakistan’; M.S. Sathyu, dir. Garam Hawa(‘Scorching Wind’).
  1. This is a novel about Sufiya Zinobia, elder daughter of General Raza Hyder and his wife Bilquis, about what happened between her father and Chairman Iskander Harappa, formerly Prime Minister, now defunct, and about her surprising marriage to a certain Omar Khayyam Shakil, physician, fat man and for a time the intimate crony of that same Isky Harappa, whose neck had the miraculous power of remaining unbruised, even by a hangman’s rope. Or perhaps it would be more accurate, if also more opaque, to say that Sufiya Zinobia is about this novel’ (Salman Rushdie, Shame) Discuss the significance of this self-confessedly ‘opaque’ reading of the figure of Sufiya Zenobia in Salman Rushdie’s novel Shame
  1. Write an essay analyzing Mirza Waheed’s depiction of the figure of the mother in both the singular and collective embodiments of creativity and loss in his novel The Collaborator. Discuss this in relation to the complex politics of nationalist and gendered identities.
  1. Discuss the role of social violence in terms of caste and gender in Arundhati Roy’s novel The God of Small Things. In light of this, assess the ways in which the novel imagines freedom in its multiple iterations—imaginative, creative and political.
  1. ‘Because of what the Poet says, Fokir. Because the animals “already know by instinct we’re not comfortably at home in our translated world.”’ (206) These lines from Amitav Ghosh’s novel The Hungry Tide evoke and problematize what it means to be human and to be at home in one’s environment. Write an essay exploring the relations between animals, humans and the environment as represented in the text.
  1. Analyse the ways in which Amruta Patil’s graphic novel Kari explores the relationship between gender and the city through both literary and visual textual signs.
  1. Explore the ways in which Masaan (dir. Neeraj Ghaywan, 2015) cinematically registers the contestation between tradition and modernity in contemporary India. Analyse the complex of signs that the film deploys to represent this contest.
  1. ‘You see, I am in the Light now, but I was born and raised in Darkness’ (Arvind Adiga, The White Tiger, 14). Discuss the use of light and dark in the novel to analyse the novel’s political stance towards globalizing India.
  1. The short story ‘The Adivasi Will Not Dance’ by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar narrates the (non)performance of a politics of refusal. What exactly is the protagonist refusing? Explore the manifold meanings of the title of the story.
  1. ‘How will I make you understand that it is not possible for those tribals to think reasonably, to offer explanations? You will understand them with your urban mentality? You will fathom the Indian Ocean with a foot-ruler? (104). Discuss the ways in which Mahasweta Devi’s story ‘The Pterodactyl’ represents the problem of communication between elites and subalterns, intellectuals and tribals.