July 28, 2009

Jyotsna Kapur earns Fulbright award

by Pete Rosenbery

Jyotsna Kapur
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Jyotsna Kapur, an associate professor in cinema studies and sociology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is a Fulbright award recipient.

Kapur will be at The Xavier Institute of Communications in Mumbai, India. She will also lecture at other universities during her six-month stay.

“The Fulbright offers a terrific opportunity to interact with and teach media students in the cultural capital of India’s popular film industry,” she said.

The lectures will be on “Hollywood’s re-imagining of childhood and the relationship between children’s cinema, media and consumer-driven culture since the 1980s,” said Kapur. The lectures will be based on her 2005 book, “Coining for Capital: Movies, Marketing and the Transformation of Childhood.”

“How a new generation is globally resisting and being integrated into contemporary capitalism and the part played by the media in this remains a core area of my research,” she said.

In 2007, Kapur received an “Excellence Through Commitment” top scholar award from the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. In April, she eared the college’s top teaching award.

“We are very proud that Dr. Kapur has received the second research Fulbright in our college in the past year,” Dean Gary P. Kolb said. “This is a testament to the important research that our faculty are conducting on the international stage and the growing recognition of the quality of our programs in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts here at SIUC.”

Kapur came to SIUC as a visiting assistant professor in 1998. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in 1983, 1986 and 1991, respectively, in India. Kapur earned a master’s degree in 1992 from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y, and a doctorate from Northwestern University in 1998.

She has held a cross-appointment in the Department of Cinema and Photography and the Department of Sociology since 2005.

During her six-month stay in India, Kapur will also complete a collaborative digital video co-production involving three SIUC cinema and photography students and students from Xavier Institute of Communications. Nicholas Nylen, Jonathan Klemke and Danielle Williamson started working with Kapur and other faculty members on the independent study project last year.

The SIUC portion of the film centers on the story of an Indian gentleman who works in an American call center for a corporate printing firm. He learns his job is being outsourced overseas to, of all places, India. While other employees accept incentive packages to leave, the man resists. He calls the company’s help line and talks with a woman in India who inspires him to continue the fight.

The SIUC effort focuses on themes of love and religion, “choosing to interpret it critically and cynically about the current economy,” Kapur said. “Our project is about the love for money raised to the level of religion.”

Students from Xavier Institute of Communications chose themes dealing with terrorism and living alone in a big city. Each group chose different formats, Kapur said, explaining the SIUC film is “experimental, playful and flamboyant,” while the Indian students’ work is more realistic and somber.

The films will integrate, said Kapur, who will work with students in India and talk to the SIUC students via the Internet. Youssef Osman, a graduate student who assisted in the project, will continue to work with Klemke, Nylen and Williamson, Kapur said.

“It is a great deal of time and effort that has gone into this so far, but true education, where people collaborate and bring their individual visions, takes such investment,” Kapur said.