Colonialism: Film, Fiction, History, Theory.

Jan 2011

I had Dabashi for "Colonization: Film, Fiction, History, Theory." The class had around 15 students and was heavy on the discussions-- a high point for some students, not so much for others. Dabashi seemed to have seldom prepared for class. Sometimes this leant itself to his mystique as a brilliant-- and I do mean brilliant-- off the cuff academic who could weave together anecdote, hermeneutics, and political economy in a way that was as much poetry as prose. Sometime he would lapse into a tired, familiar story and impose these immense pauses on the class while he fumbled to connect the ends of his argument. It was hard to tell at the beginning of class which kind of day it was. Inconsistencies aside, Dabashi put together a memorable syllabus and created an engaging atmosphere with a lot of intellectual lateral. His ideas are provocative, durable, and (surprisingly) productive. I couldn't help but quote him up over the winter break and friends were definitely intrigued. WIth that said, I'm not really interested in taking another course with him. I think I got all I can from him this past semester, and I would guess that he would start to repeat himself. All in all, If you like discussion-based classes and can endure a sometimes bumbling, sometimes brilliant professor; if you're interested in understanding the colonial project as more than economy but not circumscribed by writers like Fanon and Said; if you want to develop a language and an analytical lens through which to contextualize the sensibilities and aesthetics of films like "Laurence of Arabia" and "The Battle of Algiers" WITHOUT relegating them to footnotes in such-and-such's post-colonial theory, you should take Dabashi. Definitely. You and your friends will be glad you did.