Radical Poetry of Protest and Resistance

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSLS2EN3604

Semester and Year Offered: M.A. Semesters 4

Course Coordinator and Team:  Dr. Kopal

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives

  • The course aims for the students to understand the theoretical formulations of the relationship between art/poetry and society.
  • It aims to explore with the students the radical potential of poetry in bringing about change.
  • To engage students in thinking about their own oppressions and finding how others have expressed those or similar oppressions through poetry and music.
  • To view poetry in its performative aspect.
  • To engage with the contemporary scene of poetry and music of protest.

Module One| Politics of Poetry

This module will introduce ideas and concepts that will ground the course theoretically. We will understand the relationship between art and society through theoretical writings on the subject and will go on to look at differing semantics of dissent, protest and resistance. The understanding developed through this module will inform the readings of poetry in the other modules.

Tentative Reading List:

  • Adorno, Theodor W. "On the fetish character in music and the regression of listening." The essential Frankfurt school reader(1938): 270-99.
  • Adorno, Theodor W. "The artist as Deputy." Notes to Literature1 (1991): 98-110.
  • Adorno, Theodor W. “Is Art Lighthearted” in Notes to Literature (volume two), trans. by Shierry Weber Nicholson. (1991): 247-253.
  • Althusser, Louis. On the reproduction of capitalism: Ideology and ideological state apparatuses. Verso Books, 2014.
  • Bloch, Ernst, and Neville Plaice. The Principle of Hope. Vol. 3. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1986.
  • Brecht, Bertolt. Brecht on art and politics. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.
  • Caygill, Howard. On resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance. A&C Black, 2013.
  • Ghatak, Ritwik. "On the Cultural Front: A Thesis Submitted by Ritwik Ghatak to the Communist Party of India in 1954." Calcutta: Ritwik Memorial Trust (2000).
  • Gramsci, A. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. London: Lawrence & Wishart. 1971.
  • Limbale, Sharankumar. "Towards an alternative aesthetics of Dalit Literature." (2004).
  • Rancière, Jacques. Dissensus: On politics and Aesthetics. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.
  • Scott, James C. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden transcripts. Yale university press, 1990.
  • Williams, R. Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1917.
  • Szymborska, Wislawa, ‘The Poet and The World’, Nobel Lecture, accessed at NobelPrize.Org, tr. Stanislaw Baranczak & Clare Cavanagh, Dec 1996

Module Two| Poetics of Protest

This module will engage widely as well as deeply with poetry and songs of protest across cultures and languages. The primary question that will be explored in this section is where is the protest situated? Where is it situated within a poem/song? Is it at the level of idea, the technique, the context or all of these? Site then becomes an important marker in the engendering as well as performing protest. The same poem/song changes meaning when read/sung in different kinds of gatherings and across different media. Debates around politics of appropriation will be touched upon.

Module Three| Three voices of protest from Punjab

  • Bulle Shah
  • Lal Singh Dil
  • Shiv Batalvi
  • Avatar Singh Pash

Module Four| Poetry of Revolution

  • Faiz Ahmad Faiz
  • Roque Dalton
  • Gabriela Mistral
  • Pablo Neruda
  • Ernesto Cardinal
  • Habib Jalib

Poetry of Palestine

  • Mahmoud Darwesh
  • Nizar Qabbani
  • Taha Muhammad Ali
  • Contemporary poetry from Palestine

Module Five| Poetry of Identity

  • Dalit Poetry
  • Feminist Poetry
  • Queer Poetry


Assessment situation 1


Class Participation (response papers and short notes)

Throughout the semester

Assessment situation 2


Blog Post (documentation, translation, review, interview)/anthology

 September End

Assessment situation 3


End Term Paper


Assessment situation 4