Multimedia Study Environment

View the Midnight's Children MSE

In partnership with the Columbia University, School of the Arts, the CCNMTL is constructing a rich MSE based on Salman Rushdie's prize-winning novel, Midnight's Children. The MSE enhances the understanding and appreciation of this significant work by adding context to selected text through direct links to glossaries of concepts and terms, significant web sites, profiles of relevant figures, scholarly commentary, archival historical footage, and artwork. The collaborative efforts of the School of the Arts, the RSC and the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan will bring this work to the stage of the Apollo Theater in Harlem in March. Beyond the stage, this MSE serves multiple cross-disciplinary courses throughout the University. Using the text of the novel and the play as frames, it presents Columbia faculty as commentators: the turning points of South Asian history, literary commentary, dramaturgic critique, and the process of adapting the novel to the stage, as well as the play itself.

Professor Neguin Yavari from Columbia's Religion Department, is using the Midnight's Children MSE in her Religion, Gender & Literature: Muslim Women Write Islam course at Columbia this spring. As she states in speaking about her spring course syllabus:

The Midnight's Children project focuses on a novel rooted in a specific locality at a certain juncture in history and yet invites questions and raises issues directly relevant to the interplay of religion and culture in different spheres and contexts... And last but not least, it promises to exploit one of the web's most useful assets, its capability to respond to different users and provide for different needs. I therefore look forward to using the project with my students and am hoping to learn as much from their reactions as my own.

The MSE has broad interdisciplinary application and will also be used in Professor Anupama Rao's Political Modernity in South Asia, in the History Department at Barnard; Narrative and Identity: Rushdie's Midnight's Children, a Comparative Literature course, taught by Professor Deborah A. Martinsen and instructor John Frankfurt; and in Constructing Digital Educational Communities: Midnight's Children a Case Study in Self-Education at Teachers College. Distinguishing features of the MSE include Rushdie's video commentary, interviews with director Tim Supple and other creative artists on the stage production team, and interviews with Columbia University faculty whose expertise complements and enhances the understanding of Rushdie's work and the cultural history of South Asia. These Columbia faculty conversations include Peter Awn, Dean, School of General Studies; Dennis Dalton, Political Science; Nicholas Dirks, Chairman, Anthropology; and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, English.

CCNMTL staff traveled to London, England to witness the final preparation for Midnight's Children's adaptation to the stage by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). The CCNMTL crew went behind the scenes, taping rehearsals and off-stage interviews with director Tim Supple, designer Melly Still, and key members of the creative team, gathering important artifacts for the development of the multi-media study environment (MSE). CCNMTL also captured the technical and full dress rehearsal in preparation for the preview opening of Midnight's Children, which took place last Saturday evening, January 18, at the Barbican Centre in London. In the production itself, the RSC used archival footage that was researched by CCNMTL.

An initial release of the MSE will be made in January 2003, and a more comprehensive version will be released in early March.

Video Preview: MSE
Video Preview: Page to Stage

To find out more about how to use it in your classes, please contact us at (212)854-9058, or via email at


Video Preview: MSE Video Preview: Page to Stage