India: National Identity and the Arts

Explore the living legacy of an ancient civilization through its arts.

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This program studies the visual and performing arts of India — its architecture, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, film, dance, music, and drama — in historic and contemporary contexts. Students are challenged to consider the relationship between religion, art, and identity.

Taking advantage of Delhi’s rich artistic heritage and lively contemporary arts scene, the program includes time at:

  • Historical and cultural sites
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Concerts and recitals
  • Dance and drama performances

Time outside Delhi could include visiting several of the following locations:

  • Agra, Lucknow, Varanasi, Bodhgaya, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar
  • South India (Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, and Madurai), Coastal India (Goa), or Jaipur for small group workshops

    Intensive Hindi language instruction, interdisciplinary lectures, and an independent research project complete the study of art history as a window through which to view this complex nation. 

    The program’s lecturers are drawn from institutions such as:

    Listen to a diverse anthology of Indian music covering many genres: classical, devotional, Bollywood, folk, Jazz, and even Indo-Western collaboration. The collection reveals many of the rich and complex traditions of Indian music students will experience on this program.

    Note to Prospective Students: India is a challenging environment, and the program is academically rigorous. Successful students are robust, mature, and academically curious and eager. We encourage students to prepare for India by building stamina, flexibility, and strength in order to be able to adjust to a new climate. This includes developing a balanced diet and physical self-awareness. Patience, flexibility, humor, and compassion will pay off in a rewarding experience in India!

    Nicole Petersen (Hamline University) studied on the India: National Identity and the Arts program in fall 2013. She has recently had an abstract of research she conducted while on that program selected by the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and will be presenting at the 2014 conference in April. Read about her research and her experiences in India.


    Alex Cunningham is a filmmaker and alumnus of the India: National Identity and the Arts program. His newest film, Rose Tree Apple Island, follows the Ganges river from its outlet in the Sundarbans to its source in the Himalaya. The film was an official selection at the 2012 Raindance Film Festival and the 2013 Victoria Film Festival. Read more.

    Taking a bite out of India Fall 2010 Students Produce Cookbook of Delectable Indian Dishes
    Students have the chance to complete a practicum in pottery, painting, heritage walks, bhajan singing, or cooking as part of the program’s National Identity and the Arts Seminar. After receiving eight lessons in the chosen discipline, students demonstrate their new skills to fellow students and teachers.

    View Recipes (PDF)

    Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

    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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