Dr Manishita Dass

Personal profile

Senior Lecturer in Film and Global Media

Director of Impact (Media Arts)

Manishita Dass received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and before coming to Royal Holloway, worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow/Visiting Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College in the U.S.

Her research and teaching interests revolve around South Asian media and cultural history, approaches to national cinema and world cinema, transnational media flows, Bengali & Hindi cinema, Asian cinemas, international silent cinema, global art cinema, and the geo-political imaginary of film and modernist studies. She has published in Cinema Journal, Screen, positions, and edited collections.

Her book, Outside the Lettered City: Cinema, Modernity, and the Public Sphere in Colonial India (Oxford University Press, 2015), traces how the new public space and publics created by cinema were imagined on and especially around the screen -- in films and in contemporary discourses about spectatorship -- in early twentieth century India. These imaginings, the book argues, are crucial clues that can illuminate, if only in flashes, cinema’s role in reshaping the public sphere, the idea of the public, and everyday meanings of modernity in late colonial India. Outside the Lettered City was recommended by BASAS (British Association for South Asian Studies) as one of their "Top 6 South Asia Studies publications of 2016": http://basas.org.uk/news-events/calendar/basas-recommended-reads-of-2016/

She is currently working on a book (Left Luggage: Cinematic Legacies of the Indian People's Theatre Association) about the impact of left radicalism on the film cultures of Bombay and Calcutta in the 1940s-1960s. She was awarded a British Academy grant to do archival research for this book.

A second, and related, project focuses on the possibilities of internediality as historiographic method, especially in colonial and postcolonial contexts: How do we fashion historiographic approaches attuned to the specificity of a medium as well as its relations with other media?  How do we trace the transnational networks, flows, exchanges, and interventions through which medium-specific trends take shape across media?

Between 2007 and 2010, she was one of the principal project coordinators of Tasveer Ghar (House of Pictures), a multi-institutional and transnational initiative (based at the University of Michigan, Duke University, University of Heidelberg, and the Center for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi) for creating a virtual archive of South Asian popular visual culture through collecting, digitizing, and contextualizing a wide variety of images and visual artifacts, e.g., posters, cinema advertisements, photographs, calendar art, and other forms of street/bazaar art (www.tasveergharindia.net).

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