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Professor Gohar Siddiqui Brings New Perspectives to Visual and Performing Arts Program

Nandita Modhubonti, Contributing Writer

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From not being allowed to watch films as a child to teaching screen studies here at Clark University, Professor Gohar Siddiqui has come a long way. As the newest addition to the Visual and Performing Arts (V&PA) department, Siddiqui has found teaching film in an art department to be a novel experience. She said she appreciates the “the liberal arts approach [and] the combination of art, theory, and performance in the same department.”

As a high school student, Siddiqui “loved reading books and had spent hours secretly reading them instead of doing homework for other subjects.” So, as an incoming freshman at the University of Delhi, she decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English Literature, which she chalks up to an instant of “naiveté.”

Although at that point in time Siddiqui had yet to discover an interest in teaching, she credits her own teachers and mentors, “who went above and beyond to help, motivate, and inspire students,” for influencing her desire to become a teacher.

After completing her B.A, Siddiqui went to earn 2 Masters degrees in English from Delhi University and Bridgewater State University. In 2017, she earned her Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Film and Screen Studies from Syracuse University.

Even though Siddiqui has more experience teaching cinematic texts, her love for novels continues to prevail. However, Siddiqui refuses to choose one over the other, asserting that “a comparison between the two is unfair to both and reduces the capacity each medium has to make a reader or viewer experience the worlds within their texts, to respond to the pleasures of these aesthetic objects, and to think about our world through them.”

When Siddiqui isn’t teaching at Clark, she has a number of ongoing research projects, including, but not limited to, a book titled “Déjà Viewed: Nation, Gender, and Genre in Bollywood Remakes of Hollywood Cinema.” The text explores concepts of gender and identity in Bollywood remakes of originally Western or Hollywood films.

Siddiqui says that she has also been interested in the notions of and relationships between gender and patriarchy since she was a child. Additionally, a large portion of the media she consumed growing up was culturally-based, and this heightened her interest in the field of gender identity.

Furthermore, when describing her experience of coming to the United States for the first time she remarked, “I was made very aware of my race and ethnicity.” On a similar note, Siddiqui said that her work and research is, to her, “a way to investigate unequal power dynamics and ideologies that are systemic in our society locally, nationally, and transnationally.”

When asked about her favorite Bollywood remakes of Hollywood, she claims that she has too many, but is able to narrow it down to Sriram Raghavan’s “Johnny Gaddaar” and Navdeep Singh’s “Manorama Six Feet Under.” She attributes her love for both films to the use of “cinephilic homages” as well as the exploration of gender in both cases.  

In addition to her book and current research projects, Siddiqui is determined “to grow as a teacher and a researcher.” She expressed excitement about engaging in future research endeavors such as investigating the role of race and gender in sitcoms like “The Mindy Project” and “Master of None.” Likewise, she said she is eager to collaborate and work with students, mentioning that “students have already mentioned their interests and I’m excited to work with them as well.”

 

Siddiqui also offered some words of wisdom to undergraduate students: “You are incredibly lucky and privileged to be getting this education and experience, so make the most of it. Go to events and talks outside of your major or minor. These are amazing opportunities that are hard to come by once you graduate.” She commented on how she regrets not being able to take sociology and physics classes back in Delhi University, which did not have a liberal arts program. She also stresses the importance of finding a balance between hard work and self-care. Furthermore, she recommended that students “think of the ways in which what you are doing contributes in some way or helps you think about contributing to communities that are dealing with problems at the local or global level.”

Gohar Siddiqui remains true to herself with her last piece of advice: “Enjoy this time and watch films.”

Although Siddiqui is as new to Clark as the incoming freshmen class, she states that from her first interactions with the student body, she has “loved how they thought about the world, about their education here at Clark, and about films.” As she becomes more and more integrated into the Clark community each day, Siddiqui is “glad to say there are some amazing teachers, scholars, and human beings” in the department of V&PA.

Siddiqui finally stated, “I’ve been here four weeks so far, but, yes, I have been very happy with the campus, the community, and my students.”

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Professor Gohar Siddiqui Brings New Perspectives to Visual and Performing Arts Program