The battle of superiority between natural and social sciences is being played out at one of India's oldest universities and good old Love may just become a casualty.
Among general education courses to familiarise humanities and science students with each others' disciplines, Kolkata's Presidency University is offering unique optional papers like "Digital Humanities", "The Physics of Everyday Life", and "Love"—likely to be option number 1 for most undergraduate students!
The subject of Love, hitherto the premise of departments of English and Philosophy, will be addressed for the first time by a department of sociology in an Indian university. The only other known precedent is the Sociology of Love undergraduate course offered at the University of Massachusetts in the US.
Prof Emeritus Prasanta Roy, who was instrumental in setting set up the Department of Sociology at Presidency University, told PTI, "The course on Love has been getting a lot of attention.
"It will be taught as a foundation course to students of natural sciences and will sensitise students towards love." Roy hopes to cover several elements of Love—from Love-as-romance to Love-as-industry. He is hoping to bank on Love theorists like Anthony Giddens, Zygmunt Bauman and Eric Fromm, who have enriched sociological discourses with The Transformation of Intimacy; Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies , Liquid Love and The Art of Loving respectively.
He confirmed there has been no precedent for the course in the country. "Delhi's two leading departments of Sociology at Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University are not teaching Emotions, love being an important emotion."
Upal Chakraborty, an assistant professor with the Department of Sociology at Presidency, is likely to teach the course on Love which will be offered in the second semester.
"From Bollywood flicks to Bhakti literature, from feminist critiques to structuralist treatises, from Sufi music to ethnographic contexts to classical and contemporary philosophy, this course will try to put 'love' under a critical sociological microscope," Chakraborty told PTI.
"In the process it will also question the oft-repeated, commonly believed oppositions between rationality and emotion, subjectivity and objectivity, romance and utility, and other similar ones."