HS 446: Language and Interpreting Sociality

This course will examine a range of articulations drawn from literature, advertisement, journalism, social sciences, cinema etc.  It will study how the stories, images, symbols and tropes of these texts work out our social concerns, anxieties and desires.

What often gets obscured as we pass over the seemingly banal texts that we encounter  everyday, or pour over the specialist and scholarly texts that we deem study-worthy, are the particular ways in which they flesh out cultural specificities and social processes. What also tends to be regularly overlooked is how language composes our ideas of social reality; how the social is available to us in language.

The course will re-visit the divide between imaginative and factual writing and focus attention on a) the conditions of production of particular texts b) what a given text �says� and its inextricable connection with how it says c) what a text does d) its modes of persuasion e) how it positions the audience/reader f) the presuppositions that inform the reading process g) acts of cross-reading and comparative reading, etc. The attempt will be to socially situate exercises of interpretation and meaning production. It will explore how language constructs certain relationships to �reality�. While doing so, the course will engage range of social issues like gender, caste, pleasure, memory, identity, sexuality, consumption etc. It will seek to bring to a boil some of the ways by which we tell and interpret stories about our selves and our socialities.


Batsleer, J. et al. ed. Rewriting English: Cultural Politics of Gender and Class. New York: Methuen, 1985.

Cohen, Ralph, ed. Future of Literary Theory. New York: Routledge, 1989.

Gregory M. & P. Fries, eds. Discourse in Society: Functional Perspectives. Norwood, NJ: Ablex   Publishing, 1994.

Halliday, M.A.K. & Hasan, R.   Language, Context, and Text. London: Oxford University Press, 1989. Lehtonen, Mikko.

The Cultural Analysis of Texts. Trans. Leena Ahonen Aija and Kris Clarke. London: Sage, 2000.

Sangari, Kumkum. Politics of the Possible: Essays on Gender, History, Narrative, Colonial English. New Delhi: Tulika, 2001.