Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2PS1074

Semester and Year Offered: Winter

Course Coordinator and Team: Sumangala Damodaran.

Email of course coordinator: sumangala[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: Compulsory for all Performance Studies 4th semester students, no prior knowledge required. Students from other discipline can credit this course as an Elective, provided they demonstrate a keen interest in the course content.

Course Objectives/Description:

This course is about understanding the realms of the ‘aural’ and of ‘movement’ in and as popular performance in the contemporary period, as the bearers of creative processes embedded in the social and historical context of modernity. It aims (a) to take students through conceptualisations and creations of ‘the popular’ in the analysis of art and culture, (b) lay out theoretical perspectives, historical contexts and expositions of range and variety in traditions of music and movement from the twentieth century, (c) to expose students to ‘ways of listening’ that allow for understanding popular music as a distinct part of an ‘aural imagination’ and as being constituted by many impulses ranging from the commercial to the consciously political and (d) to understand how sound, music and movement have been employed in performing nation, difference and identity.

With regard to structure the course has specific components: the first The idea of the Popular, dealing which conceptualizing ‘mass’culture and the category of the ‘political’; the subsequent areas of interest are Aural Imaginaries in/of the Popular and Dance and Movement in Popular Performance. Finally the course critically engages with the concept of Performing the Popular. This course is a methodology course to help advanced students of Performance Studies in MA dissertation writing.

Course Outcomes:

  • By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  • Develop basic familiarity with the concept of “Popular”.
  • Identify and understand research methods incorporating “Listening” and the “phenomenological” as a source of Knowledge.
  • Read, and critically comprehend academic literature, which facilitates exploration of contemporary practices of interpretations of Performance through methods of Aural Imaginaries in/of the Popular and Dance and Movement in Popular Performance.
  • Develop research agendas in Performance Studies.
  • Internalise analytical skills and independent thinking to interpret creative arts and foster research skills, which is informed by a strong social quotient, as a pre-requisite for research in Performance Studies.
  • Conceptualize and write MA Dissertation in Performance Studies and allied disciplines.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Weeks 1 and 2

The idea of the popular: between ‘mass’ culture and the ‘political’

The ideas around the concept of ‘the popular’, as it emerged from the late nineteenth century onwards, will be discussed. Under this topic, questions of ‘high’ and ‘low culture’, ‘elite’ and ‘popular’ culture and other such binaries will be critically examined in an attempt to open up the idea of popular culture as social and as an important constitutive element of visualising the political.


  • Elizabeth G. Traube, 1996: "The Popular" in American Culture, Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 25, pp. 127-151
  • Tony Bennett, 1986: “Introduction, Popular Culture and the ‘Turn to Gramsci’: the Politics of Popular Culture” 6-21
  • Stuart Hall, 1981: “Notes on Deconstructing the Popular”, People’s History and Socialist Theory, ed. R. Samuel, pp 227-40, London, Routledge/Kegan Paul
  • Fredrick Jameson, 1979: Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture, Social Text 1, 130-48
  • Pierre Bourdieu (1987), Distinction: a Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Massachussets: the Harvard University Press, 1984, Introduction, Chapter 1, Postscript
  • Pierre Bourdieu, (1995) The Rules of Art, Stanford: the University Press, Chapter 1.


Weeks 3 to 6

Aural Imaginaries in/of the Popular – Part 1

This module will introduce students to techniques and methods of understanding the ‘aural’ as a critical sensibility in decoding popular performance. It will use ‘listening’ as a device of uncovering social processes in music. Two weeks will be devoted to intensive listening sessions with a view to understanding genre, expression and signification through aurality in performance.

Detailed discography is being worked out

Aural Imaginaries in/of the Popular – Part 2

The theoretical framework for understanding popular music as well as its broad history from the late nineteenth century will be laid out in these two weeks.

It will also look at issues of Representation, Transformation, Production and Consumption of Popular Music as a Category in itself as well as in composite performance traditions involving sound, music, movement and drama.


  • Gregory D. Booth and Terry Lee Kuhn, 1990: Economic and Transmission Factors as Essential Elements in the Definition of Folk, Art, Pop Music The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 3 , pp. 411-438
  • Jean-Nicolas De Surmont, 2008: From Oral Tradition to Commercial Industry: The Misunderstood Path of Popular Song / Odusmenetradicije do komercijalneindustrije: krivoshvaćeniputevipopularnepjesme, International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, Vol. 39, No. 1 (June), pp. 73-92
  • Martin Stokes, 2004: Music and the Global Order Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 33, pp. 47-72
  • Robert Lilienfeld, 1987: Music and Society in the 20th Century: Georg Lukacs, Ernst Bloch, and Theodor Adorno, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, Vol. 1, No. 2, The Sociology of Culture (Winter,) pp. 310-336
  • Frith, S, 1991: The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent – Defending Popular Culture from the Populists, Diacritics 21 (4): 102-15


Weeks 7 to 10

Dance and Movement in Popular Performance

The parameters that can be used to understand movement in general and dance in particular as historically evolved as well as an embodiment of cultural knowledge will be introduced in this module. Through an exposure to specific dance and movement traditions from the twentieth century, the idea of movement as a ‘way of knowing’ and its role in the world of representation will be addressed.


  • Morrison Brown, Jean, , Naomi Mindlin and, Charles Humphrey Woodford (eds): The vision of modern dance: in the words of its creators, Princeton Book Co.
  • Chatterjea, Ananya: Chandralekha - Negotiating the Female Body and Movement in Cultural/Political Signification, retrieved from http/‎
  • Dils, Ann, ‎ Cooper Albright, Ann (2001): Moving History/Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader, Wesleyan University Press.


Performing the Popular:

The last two weeks will be devoted to examining issues of ‘nation’, ‘emancipation’, ‘difference’ and ‘identity’ in social/political movements through the lens of the aural. Through these, the factors that were critical in shaping popular music in its wide range, in form, across spaces and across performance genres, will be analysed.


  • Gill Valentine, (1995): Creating Transgressive Space: The Music of KD Lang, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series, Vol. 20, No. 4,pp. 474-485
  • Donaldson, Rachel Clare (2011): Music For The People: The Folk Music Revival And American Identity, 1930-1970, Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Vanderbilt University.
  • Gerhard Kubik (1999): Africa and the Blues.(Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi)
  • Turino, Thomas(2003): Nationalism and Latin American Music: Selected Case Studies and Theoretical Considerations, Latin American Music Review, Volume 24, Number 2, Fall/Winter, pp. 169-209
  • Alejandro L. Madrid. 2008. Sounds of the Modern Nation: Music, Culture, and the Ideas in Post-Revolutionary Mexico. Philadelphia: Temple University Press
  • Bhattacharjya, Nilanjana (2009) Popular Hindi Film Song Sequences Set in the Indian Diaspora and the Negotiating of Indian Identity, Asian Music, Volume 40, Number 1, Winter/Spring, pp. 53-82
  • Arnold, Alison (1988) “Popular Film Song in India: A Case of Mass Market Musical Eclecticism.” Popular Music 7(2):177–88.
  • Arnold, Alison (1992) “Aspects of Production and Consumption in the Popular Hindi Film Song.” Asian Music 24(1):122–36.
  • Chatterjee, Partha,1995: “A Bit of Song and Dance.” In Frames of Mind: Reflections on Indian Cinema, ed. ArunaVasudev, 197–218. New Delhi: UBS Publishers’ Distributors Pvt. Ltd.
  • Manuel, Peter 1988 Popular Musics of the Non-Western World: An Introductory Survey. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Damodaran, S (2014): “Singing Resistance – Understanding the Musical Tradition of the IPTA” in Gargi Chakravarty (ed): People’s ‘Warrior’ – Words and Worlds of P.C.Joshi
  • Assessment Details with weights:
  • The students will be assessed for in-class discussions and contribution of material (in response to ideas discussed in the class) and written work (two papers over the semester).


*All students must participate in all course assessments to obtain a passing course grade.

Reading List:

See Above.