Files in this item



application/pdfDheepa_Sundaram.pdf (2MB)
(no description provided)PDF


Title:Aesthetics as resistance: rasa, dhvani, and empire in Tamil "Protest" drama
Author(s):Sundaram, Dheepa
Director of Research:Pandharipande, Rajeshwari
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Palencia-Roth, Michael
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Pandharipande, Rajeshwari V.; Hansen, James A.; Peterson, Indira
Department / Program:Comparative & World Literature
Discipline:Comparative Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Tamil drama
Sanskrit drama
English melodrama
Abstract:Abstract Aesthetics as Resistance: Rasa, Dhvani, and Empire in Modern Tamil “Protest” Theater addresses questions concerning the role of aesthetics in the development, production, and impact of Tamil “Protest" Theater (1900-1930) on the success of the Indian anticolonial movement in the colonial Tamil state. In addition, I explore the possibility for a Modern Tamil aesthetic paradigm that arises from these syncretic plays, which borrow from both external and indigenous narrative and dramaturgical traditions. I begin with the following question, “Can aesthetic “relishing” (rasasvāda) be transformed into patriotic sentiment and fuel anticolonial resistance?” Utilizing Theodore Baskaran’s The Message Bearers, which examines the development and production of anticolonial media in Tamil Nadu as point of departure, my research interrogates Tamil “popular” or “company” drama as a successful vehicle for evoking anticolonial sentiment. In this context, I posit the concept of “rasa-consciousness” as the audience’s metanarrative lens that transforms emotive cues and signposts in the dramatic work into sentiment through a process of aesthetic "remembering.” This lens is constituted through a complex interaction between culture, empire, and modernity that governs the spectator’s memorializing process. The culturally-determined aesthetic “lens” of Tamil spectator necessitates a culture-specific messaging system by anticolonial playwrights that links the dramatic outcome with feelings of nationalism and patriotism. More specifically, I argue that Tamil “Protest” plays, as generic wholes, become unifying symbols of “nation” by engaging with multiple anticolonial, political, and class and gender-based sociocultural struggles taking place in the community at large. Thus, they transform the rasika (culturally-informed aesthete) into a citizen of an imagined nation-community by utilizing these tensions as markers of unity and identity. I see the implications of my work as two-fold. First, instead of maintaining Baskaran’s unidirectional movement from “elite” to “popular” drama, my dissertation argues that in fact, these plays can be said to constitute a new Tamil aesthetic predicated on rasa-consciousness. Second, my work addresses the history, influences, production, and performance of these plays to elucidate why the success of the anticolonial popular drama in the Tamil colonial state occurs gradually and largely has been ignored in literary and colonial study to this point.
Issue Date:2015-01-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Dheepa Sundaram
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-01-21
Date Deposited:2014-12

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Item Statistics