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Early Cinema: Scholars and Artists in Conversation


Event Summary

Diler Jigar (still), 1931.

This roundtable conversation explored cinematography, music, dance, cinemas, and audience reception from the era of silent films through the first decades of talkies. Consideration of film as art and artifact was interwoven with reflection on cinema’s profound impact on Indian Ocean societies. The 1931 film Diler Jigar with original musical accompaniment created for this symposium provided a unique resource for the roundtable discussion.


James Nye (Introduction/Moderator), Bibliographer for Southern Asia, retired, and Associate in the Humanities Division, University of Chicago

Sascha Ebeling, Associate Professor, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, The University of Chicago

Usha Iyer, Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University

Bertie Kibreah, Programming Coordinator, The Franke Institute for the Humanities, The University of Chicago

Hari Krishnan, Professor, Dance Department, Wesleyan University

This event was presented as part of the capstone series of events for the Interwoven project. The project drew together an interdisciplinary group of scholars and practitioners in the arts to lay the foundations of a new paradigm for understanding movement, practice, materiality, and embodiment in a continuum of exchange across long temporal arcs and geographic itineraries unbounded by national borders in the Indian Ocean region. Featuring scholars, musicians, dancers, and curators from South Asia, Europe, and North America, the two-week program consisted of a series of roundtables, keynote lectures, and the screening of a silent film with accompanying live performances. The interactive nature of the capstone events reflected the richness of the interwoven paradigm of understanding, as well as point to the ways the methodologies explored will contribute to future scholarship. The panels were comprised of pre-recorded lectures by individual panelists and synchronous discussions that brought panelists together in real-time. Please be sure to watch the pre-recorded lectures before the live sessions. Visit the Interwoven website to learn more.

This symposium was co-sponsored by the Committee on Southern Asian Studies (COSAS), the Department of Art History, the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the Department of Music at the University of Chicago.