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10:34am 30/08/2004
mood: impressed
That's my first reaction. I just completed going through your short term assignments for my module and I must say I stand terribly impressed and humbled - Impressed because of the kind of work, application and initiative that some of you have shown, humbled because I am sure that at my undergrad courses, I did not often produce papers of this standard.

So well done class. Most of you have done a good job and a few of you might not even need to rewrite your papers. I shall hand over the comments in two weeks' time and then you will have two more weeks (a week after you exams get over) to hand in the re-written assignments if you would so wish.

Just to make things a litle more exciting (and keeping in mind Vishwajeet's feedback that things have been horribly murky in the course of the course), here is a grading system that we shall indulge in for the time being. I am borrowing from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and here is what your grades will be like...but only for these assignments. (Your final grades will be more er...keeping in standards with established norms)

Your grading patterns:

E- Exceeds Expectations.
A- Acceptable
F- Fair.
--- This is the passing limit. Anything below this goes plonk!---
P- Poor
D- Dreadful
T- Troll!!!

So once again, very well done class. Keep up the good work.

p.s. Amritha, I do owe you a chocolate :)
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05:40pm 27/08/2004
  hi, guys, i'm deepti and FINALLY got myself an account. you can't blame me, i tried, but the college computers didn't show that 'create journal' page, and gave errors instead...anyway, i've never kept my own blog before coz i didnt know if i could update it regularly...but now with the college so kindly allowing us free access i guess it's not so bad.

i'd better go now. that computer guy is giving me dirty looks and i have to still START nishant sir's project (fair copy)...hehe...
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romal's post has been deleted... 
11:26pm 26/08/2004
mood: not so pleased



THE POST DELETED AND REVISED BY latelyontime - That's me, Nishant
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Sample assignment 
03:42pm 24/08/2004
mood: amused
Here is a sample assignment that I did, as a part of my trip to The Forum with all of you. This is keeping in mind the request we got from your Class Rep, that many of you might find it helpful to what an assignment can look like.

However, before you actually have a dekko at it, please keep these things in mind.

1. This assignment is longer than what is expected of you so don't worry if you find it too long.

2. The stylistic devices are entirely my own and don't try to simulate them. It would be better for you if you start developing your own style and pattern in your writing.

3. All the quotable quotes and phrases used in my write up are my own and cannot be quoted in any part of your assignment. Please do not plagarise. If I find you using words and phrases which are not quite yours, I will have many things to say about it.

4. This is just a sample assignment voicing some of my own concerns. See how the questions are addressed all at once without actually referring to them all the time.

Culture in a Chocolate BrownieCollapse )

I have also offered to come in on Thursday, 25th August at 14:00 hours to solve any queries or problems that you might be facing with the assignments.

Till I hear from you, the deadline stays - 28th August, 2004.
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Guidelines for the short term assignment... 
12:09am 23/08/2004
mood: happy
The trip to forum was, hopefully, edutainment for everybody. However, it wasn't all meant to be fun, and for those of you who did come and do your work, you must have realised that work can be fun as well!!!

And after that small pep talk, here are the guidelines that I had talked about, that you were to take into account while submitting your short term assignment for your module.

But before we get on to there, here are a few reminders about the assignments:

1. Your assignment has to be an essay, rather than a set of answers to questions that I put forward.

2. The assignment has to be at least a thousand words long. (1,000 words, for those who have a problem in coverting from words to figures :) )

3. The assignment is due on the next class on Saturday, the 28th of August, 2004.

4. Um...there is no alternative to the assignments. And also, there is no extension in the deadline.

And now for the questions you need to ask, while doing a spatial analysis of The Forum.

1. Identify a lifestyle product. Does the larger category of the product you have chosen, include products segregated at different levels?
Remember: The product is not to be confused with the brands. The entry point is a chocolate brownie, not Java Green that might be selling it!
ex: If Food is what you define as your lifestyle product, is the food available at different levels or is it a homoegeneous category?
What does this segregation seem to indicate?
Do these differentiations attract different customers?
How are they packaged to give you such an idea?

2. Explore the space that houses the product.
Is the space defined by the product?
Is the product, in turn defined by the space from which within it is sold?
Is the space unique to the product?
Will these products also be available in other spaces?
If yes, then what is it about this particular space that makes people consume them from here?
If no, what is unique about this space that makes them accessible?

3. What all is set out for consumption in the spaces where your chosen product is out for sale? For example, what are the people engaged in window shopping consuming?

4. How do you draw links between the product you've identified, lifestyle/cultures and consumption? Is this traingulation characteristic to a certain notion of urban and cosmopolitan cultuesr that The Forum stands for? Are they unique to the notion of the City?

5. What are the different parameters by which you determine lifestyle? What are the notions of Urban Cultural practices that are predicated in the act and fact of going to the mall?

6. Can we read the mall as a dystopic space?
Would you like to create a dystopic narrative of that space?
How and why?
Comment on the 'New' Cultures that is seems to be promoting. Have a look at the social networking patterns that it houses.

7. What does the mall, thus described, stand for?
We started with a notion of the mall as a space that can be identified as a 'temple of globalised modernity' .
Does this earlier idea undergo some kind of a change?

8. Can you notice the paradoxes that exist within the malls? for example, we had looked at the paradox of how Microsoft encourages piracy of its own software.
Draw a link between any two and try to understand what is it within the space of the mall that allows for the paradoxes to exist.

And that's about it. If you have any more questions, buzz me, mail me, query me or call me. But make sure that I get those assignments by next Saturday...

Of Dystopias and nightmare. Session # 2 
12:24pm 22/08/2004
mood: tired
Required Reading: Ashish Nandy's 'The Beautiful Expanding Future of Poverty".

A look at what we did...or tried to anyway!
City as Dystopia.

  • Utopia and Dystopia as two mutually defining categories. We argued that they are both spaces that exist in the 'realm of the mind' and are more, strategies of representation, rather than a pre-given characteristic of a given place.

  • Visuals of Dharavi slums and other spaces in crises where we could read Dystopia in the way the places were represented to us.

  • Once we realise that representations work at a conscious level - that the techniques employed and the meaning making process deployed are both conscious efforts - we also need to look at the 'ethics' of representation. Who speaks for whom, is as important an issue, as why is it being spoken about.

  • Also linked to the question of how is a space represented, is the notion of the technology that frames the representation. From movies to music to documentaries to print, the media and the technology that are used in the process of representing/defining a space are also to be taken into consideration.

  • Understand that Dystopic narratives of a space as generally created for a political tool or purpose. The reason why Dystopic narratives would be created can range from discontent to reform.

  • Different notions of dystopia as framed by the paradoxes of 'lack' and 'excess.' Dystopic spaces are not always marked by a lack of something, but sometimes, also by an excess of something - as in the case of the movie clip from Matrix: Revolutions. A completely cyborgified world is the other extreme of the deprived world. For more examples of dystopic narratives have a look at H.G. Wells' The Time Machine or at George Orwell's 1984.

  • The city, then we decided, can also be looked upon as a dystopic space. There are certain notions of the city which are at large, which allow us to look upon the city as one such space - of terror, deprivation and oppression.

  • The forces governing a city can be political, economic, social and cultural - Most of the times these are not mutually exclusive categories and generally are intermeshed, each with the other.

  • A look at Nandy's arguments about Poverty, destitution and the glorification of the same to understand that categories of Planning, Development and Progress are fluid categories and do not remain constant over time and geographies.

  • Looking at the changing ways of understanding cities. From City of joy to City of Terror. Introducing to us the idea that the very forces that are touted as the defining moments of the cities can oftentimes be looked upon as the forces that threaten its existence. Looking upon technology, especially, as a defining grid of city spaces and giving instances of how technology can also destroy the entire space of the city.

    And on other notes, romaland tux13 welcome abaord! :)
Student groups formed 
05:36pm 19/08/2004
  In order to help the students with their projects, we have made the following groups:

With Nishant Shah
Bhavya, Niranjan N, Mallik Gowda, Nirupama N, Neha Jain, Jhanvi, Vishwajeet

With Sushmita
Payal Kamat, Swati Gupta , Sr Joicy, Shreya Ashok, Romal Singh, Priya Jain,Gankhu Sumnyan

With Sushumna
Leonard, Navdha Dingra, Pritika Gulati, G Navya Reddy, Shruti Batra, Lolatendu Behera, Anand

With Mrinalini Sebastian 
Deepti Kumar, Madhavi G, G Sai Phanindra, Nibin Nelson, Sangeetha Mahadevan, Amrita Mittra, Tanya
Session 1 
03:34pm 19/08/2004
  In the first half of the session we will try to find answers to the following questions:
- What are the ideas that are generally associated with the term ‘culture’?
- When and why did people start associating these ideas with the term ‘culture’?
- What does the critic Raymond Williams say about the term ‘culture’?
- What has thinking about ‘culture’ got to do with India? Why is it important today, to study the relationship between notions of culture, and various practices of the people?

The second half of the session will
-give the students an overview of the course ‘certificate in cultural analysis’
-introduce them to the range of material that will be used in the course
-show how all around us we can see various groups of people laying claim over ‘spaces’, ‘identities’ and ‘histories’
-analyse how these claims are linked to ideas of democracy and citizenship; to representations of politics, culture and society
The project list for my module: 
11:48am 09/08/2004
mood: wonky
Hi, here is a list of the project topics along with a short description of what I had in mind when I crafted them. Go through them and start narrowing down your options so that at the end of the semester you are not in a rush.

Just a few things to keep in mind before you start rushing through the list:

  • The projects are not to be restricted to the module the coordinator facilitates. You will be expected to draw from all the four modules in your work.

  • The projects can include any presentation format but a certain amount of writing will be required of you.

  • The projects are individual projects and not to be worked upon in a group. However the same topic can be taken up by different students and get approved by a coordinator.

  • The projects (along with the short class assignments and your attendance) will be the basis of the grade you recieve /credits you earn for the course.

  • Tutorials will be fixed for students to help them work on their projects. The details can be worked out in the course of the course.

  • click here for the listCollapse )

    and thats all folks...:)
Exploring Urban Cultures and Spaces: Session 1 
11:39pm 07/08/2004
mood: recapped
Required Reading: Sigfried Kracuer's "The Hotel Lobby" in The Mass Ornament

A brief summary of the things introduced and discussed in class:

1. The notion of Space:

  • Space as seperate from Place.

  • Space as an imagined construct predicated upon the Place.

  • Space as independent of physical boundaries and located in our imaginations and aspirations.

  • Space as a concept.

  • Another approach to recognising a Space would be in terms of Who has occupied it, who owns/belongs to it and who is expected to occupy it.

  • Space as something that can be imagined and defined depending on the uses it is put to. (The two clips of the roads where the 'public' register changes depending upon the way the roads are used)

click here for the listCollapse )

  • The first session of the module was expected to raise several questions about what we think of the spaces that we occupy and how we imagine these spaces.

  • The idea that there are certain spaces more visible than the other, that even within the imaginary construct of the city there are certain spaces which are rendered invisible and that there is a certain replication of spaces that happens across the globe with an alarming similarity.

  • To recognise that spaces are not pregiven but constructed and thus spaces can be de-constructed and read in order to see the forces that sustain themselves.

  • To understand that the apparent 'mindset' that people might have about encoutering and accessing spaces might be guided and branded by other forces.

  • To explore the possibility that if we scratch beyond the surface, it is possible to use spaces for speaking of many different issues and pre-occupation.

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