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Inside the Center & CCSRE Chautauqua: Usha Iyer

Dancing Women: 

Choreographing Corporeal Histories of Hindi Cinema  

Please join us for a book talk by Usha Iyer, a fellow at both the Stanford Humanities Center and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity for 2020–21.

While the very mention of Bollywood evokes images of big-budget song-and-dance spectacles, there is little scholarship on dance in Indian cinema. Film scholar Usha Iyer will discuss her new book, Dancing Women: Choreographing Corporeal Histories of Hindi Cinema, which is an ambitious study of two of South Asia’s most popular cultural forms, cinema and dance. Iyer examines female dancing in popular Hindi cinema from the 1930s to the 1990s to explore how cinematic dance forms produce unique constructions of gender, sexuality, stardom, and spectacle. 

Through attention to gesture, movement vocabulary, training, rehearsal, fame, and erasure, the book posits the need for corporeal histories that are peopled by many laboring bodies. Such a history takes into account acclaimed and invisibilized performers and celebrates a range of dancing women as co-choreographers of female mobility. The dancing women who choreograph this narrative are protean figures, shape-shifting through the webs of patriarchal, industrial practices, producing in the process a variegated, textured history of dance, music, theater, and cinema.

Following the presentation, Professor Iyer will be joined by CCSRE Director Jennifer Brody and Humanities Center Director Roland Greene for a Q&A session.

This event is co-sponsored with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and the Center for South Asia at Stanford.

Usha Iyer is Assistant Professor, Film and Media Studies, at Stanford University. She is affiliate faculty at Stanford's Center for South Asia and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE). She is currently a faculty fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and a 2020 CCSRE faculty fellow. She was a fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research in 2018-19. Iyer's essays have appeared in Camera ObscuraSouth Asian Popular Culture, and edited collections such as Movies, Moves and Music: The Sonic World of Dance FilmsFigurations in Indian FilmThe Evolution of Song and Dance in Hindi Cinema, and are forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Film Theory, The Blackwell Companion to Indian CinemaBioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, Industrial Networks and Cinemas of India, and the Women Film Pioneers Project, among others. Iyer is Associate Editor of South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies.



Thursday, January 21, 2021. 12:30 PM




Stanford Humanities Center, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Center for South Asia at Stanford



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