India: National Identity and the Arts

Key Features

India presents an unparalleled diversity of religions, languages, and cultures. Its art, architecture, music, theater, and dance offer a dramatic reflection of the nation’s intricate cultural mosaic. The program helps students develop an appreciation of India as a center of Asian civilization rather than a stereotypical nation beset by problems of the developing world.

Exploring the cultural assets of New Delhi
Delhi is vibrant with monuments, galleries, museums, music performances, dance recitals, theatre performances, film festivals, national and regional craft exhibitions, and national and regional fashion design exhibitions.

  • Students have access to art of all periods including contemporary art and traditional arts from all over India.
  • All Indian states have representative houses and cultural centers in Delhi, which are open to the public. These state houses offer varied lectures and performances that showcase their regional arts.
  • Students may visit the India Habitat Centre, the India International Centre, and the Lalit Kala Academy, which complements classroom and other program activities.
  • Most lectures are held at the SIT program house in Lado Sarai in New Delhi.

Experiencing Indian art and architecture beyond Delhi
Through frequent visits to important historical sites, students experience the art of India in a visceral, intense way.

Learn more about the program’s other excursions.

For a short period, the group divides into smaller, independent units for intensive workshops. Examples include folk music, painting, or art history workshops. The location of the workshops changes depending on the semester. Typically, workshops are conducted in either South India (Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Thanjavur, and Madurai) or Rajasthan.

Practicums with local artists and experts
While in Delhi, students can engage with local artists and experts through involvement with a specific Indian craft or organization. In the past, students have completed practicums focused on topics such as singing, Indian dance, heritage walks, cooking, and yoga.

Hindi language instruction
Students from the beginning to intermediate level receive daily Hindi language classes in small groups. Students are encouraged to continue working on their language skills in daily life and with homestay families. Students with advanced Hindi may opt for tutoring.

Independent Study Project
In the final month of the program, students complete an Independent Study Project (ISP), which provides students with an opportunity to pursue original research on a selected topic of particular interest to them. Students choose research topics with consultation and support from the academic director and other in-country experts. Students conduct their ISP in Delhi, northern India, or another approved location appropriate to the project.

Sample ISP topic areas include:
  • Challenges of historical preservation in a developing society
  • “Box Wallah” photography
  • Pilgrimage and environmental degradation
  • Kathak dancing
  • Hanuman and traditional wrestling
  • Modern Indian cinema
  • Preservation of the Kashmir shawl
  • Sufi music and poetry
  • Architecture and urban space
  • Polo and Rajput horse culture
  • Conservation of the tomb of Akbar
  • Culinary culture in New Delhi
  • Seventeenth-century water systems of the Agra Red Fort

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: New Delhi

Language Study: Hindi

Prerequisites: None, although previous coursework in Asian history, Asian art history, or Asian religions is recommended. Read more...


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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