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Usha Iyer

Usha Iyer

Assistant Professor
Film and Media Studies
Film and Media Studies


Usha Iyer is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of cinema, performance, and gender studies with a specific focus on stardom, body cultures, spectatorial desire and engagement, and the political economy of transnational media.

Her book project, which examines the role of dance in the construction of female stardom in popular Hindi cinema from the 1930s to the 1990s, reflects these interests in its theorizing and historicizing of film dance, a staple “attraction” of the popular Indian film form, in relation to the construction of cinematic narratives, star bodies, and spectator-citizens. In recent articles and conference presentations, she examines dance, comedy, and action as performative modes involved in the presentation of the male body as spectacle. This attention to varied modes of performance is directed towards understanding cultural paradigms for performing gender, and producing a critical genealogy of popular cultural forms and trans-regional exchanges through the performing body.

Dr. Iyer is an affiliate faculty of Stanford's Center for South Asia, and a faculty fellow at The Clayman Institute for Gender Research in 2018-19.

Her essays have appeared in Camera ObscuraSouth Asian Popular Culture, and edited collections such as Movies, Moves and Music: The Sonic World of Dance FilmsFigurations in Indian Film, and are forthcoming in The Blackwell Companion to Indian Cinema, and the Women Film Pioneers Project.

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Sample Courses:

Gender & Performance

The Body in Film and other Media

Theories of Melodrama

Exploring South Asia through Cinema – History, Political Economy, Cultural Production

The Art Cinema in India


February 15, 2018

Free and Open to the Public 

Encina Hall West, Room 219
February 9, 2018


McMurtry Building, Room 115