The purpose of the new ba honours course in English, under the semester system, is to provide a thorough grounding in literature written in the English

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  1. Textual Criticism Eng/PG/G1

This course will be among the options offered on critical theory. It will deal with principles of textual criticism in the post-print era, basic concepts, and a brief outline of the debates centres on bibliography, textual scholarship and editing in English studies. Students will have to know about the contribution of such major figures as Greg, Bowers, Tanselle and McGann. The basic text recommended is Philip Gaskell’s From Writer to Reader.

  1. Many Feminisms Eng/PG/G2

This course is designed to make students aware of the multiplicity of theoretical and methodological approaches within what appears to be the monolithic structure of feminist discourse. The readings, however, will not be confined to a discussion of feminist theory as a tool for literary criticism only, but will attempt to capture some of the diversity of motivation and experience informing feminist academic debates related to other areas of cultural practice.

  1. Foucault Eng/PG/G3

This course will introduce students to selected writings of the French poststructuralist Michel Foucault, whose work on the frontier between philosophy and history has helped to transform many disciplines including literary criticism. Special emphasis will be laid on Foucault’s contribution to Discourse Theory and his exploration of the constitutive relationship between knowledge and politics, including a study of Edward Said’s application of Foucault’s approach to the analysis of Orientalism as a discourse.

  1. Literature and Psychoanalysis Eng/PG/G4

Candidates are expected to study some of the fundamental concepts of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis through a close reading of selected primary texts, to familiarize themselves with some of the important theories of application, and to use psychoanalysis in interpreting literary works.

  1. Greek Literary and Aesthetic Thought Eng/PG/G5

This course will study the major strands in Greek aesthetic thought, starting with an examination of the beginnings in epic poetry, and go on to study seminal texts from Plato, Aristotle, Demetrius, Hermogenes and Longinus. The texts will be selected from those translated in D.A. Russell and M. Winterbottom, Ancient Literary Criticism (Oxford 1979)

  1. Romantic Critical Thought Eng/PG/G6

This course will look at the work of German thinkers like Schiller, Moritz, Schlegel and others as well as the critical writings of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, etc, to examine the development of ideas during this crucial period of the history of aesthetics and critical thought.

  1. Realism Eng/PG/G7

This course will combine theoretical and textual study, examining theories of literary realism against signal instances of realist fictional texts, especially from the nineteenth century. It will look at the ideological investment in realist representation as well as the hold that such fictions have on the structures of feeling.

  1. Structure, Sign and Play Eng/PG/G8

This course will study the meaning and influence attached to terms like ‘structure’, ‘sign’ and ‘play’ in twentieth century critical theory, especially in structuralist, semiotic and poststructuralist textual analysis. Discussion will focus on the work of Saussure, Jakobson, C.S. Pierce, Eco, Barthes, Derrida, Lacan, Baudrillard, and Lyotard among others.

  1. Image and Text Eng/PG/G9

This course will look at all the major genres which deploy image and text in relation to each other, such as the medieval illuminated manuscripts, the biblia paupera, early modern printed books, ephemera, story-pictures, cartoons, illustrated books, comic strips, comic books and graphic novels. The course will pay attention to the production, consumption and dissemination of such texts as well as their visual and narrative protocols.

  1. A Change of Mind: Literature and the Human Brain Eng/PG/G10

Ideas about the nature and functioning of the human mind have influenced the writing of texts, shaping form, content and techniques of composition from Aristotle to the Beat Generation and beyond. This course offers students the opportunity to explore the interface between literature and Western philosophy, particularly with reference to language and creativity. In this course, students examine selected literary texts in which writers explore the processes by which they think, remember, recreate and write, as well as learn about the historical and philosophical backgrounds which shape their thinking.

  1. The Dream in Literature Eng/PG/G11

The dream has a very important space in literature. Students will be expected to study prototypes of the dream from classical and Biblical sources, from medieval ones like the Roman de la Rose and the dream literature in Medieval England and from hagiographical texts. This portion of the reading may be done in modern English translation In this section, the dream as frame in narrative poems will be discussed. We shall move on to more modern ways of the interpretation and analysis of dreams within narratives, poems and prose writings. This section will require readings from Freud, Jung and Lacan along with a wide ranging selection from literary texts which will be announced from time to time.


  1. Women, Writing, Madness Eng/PG/H1

This course will examine the relationship between constructions of women’s madness, femininity and creativity. It will focus on the works of Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Antonia White and others. It will read them in the context of feminist and psychoanalytic theory (Freud, Lacan, Juliet Mitchell, Helene Cixous, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Elaine Showalter, Shoshana Felman, Phyllis Chesler and others.)

  1. History of the Book Eng/PG/H2

This course will survey the various manifestations of the book, ranging from the invention of movable type in Germany in the fifteenth century to the rapid proliferation of the digital word in the present day. The course will concentrate on the book trade in England in particular, as well as the various technological innovations in the history of the printed and digital book.

  1. Shakespeare in Performance Eng/PG/H3

The performance of Shakespeare’s plays, from his own times to the present, and covering theatrical, cinematic and dance productions from across the world, forms the focus of this course. It starts with a detailed survey of the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage, and concludes with a study of screen versions of the plays.

  1. Literature and the Visual Arts Eng/PG/H4

This course will examine the range of aesthetic influences across visual and verbal media. It will enquire into the possibility of a ‘common aesthetic’ and study the many ways in which painting and other visual arts have influenced, or been affected by, literature. Students will make a special study of periods in which the relationships are particularly close, such as the Renaissance, the nineteenth century and the Modernist period.

  1. Popular Literature Eng/PG/H5

Besides the theoretical background, this course may focus on specific authors who were/are popular, and investigate the reasons behind their continuing/extinct popularity. Also, a study of how ‘characters’ in prose fiction become part of the popular literary consciousness.

  1. Translation: A Case Study of Tagore Eng/PG/H6

Tagore’s career and canon offer multiple perspectives on translation. This course examines his own translating practice as an example of auto-translation, as well as his Bengali works translated into English by others. The aim is to sensitize students to the demands of translation, so that they may be able to apply these principles in any translation activity that they undertake. Perquisite: familiarity with the Bengali language.

  1. Literature and Gender Eng/PG/H7

This course is an introduction to the concept of gender as a cultural category and how it is constructed in literature. It will introduce students to the major critical approaches to literature that feminist theorists have devised to understand ‘woman’ as a single or variable entity n literature.

  1. Queer Studies Eng/PG/H

This course will be an introduction to lesbian, gay and bisexual studies, focussing on such issues as theories of sexual orientation, the history of the gay movement, AIDS, queer theory, the lesbian/gay artist/writer and lesbian and gay literary theories.

  1. Utopian Literature Eng/PG/H9

This course will be a selective reading of Utopian literature, including its dystopian and satirical variations, ranging from the Renaissance to the present day. The readings will be discussed in the context of relevant political and social theory, with special attention to some of the literary techniques employed to create a distinct tradition.

  1. The Literature of Espionage Eng/PG/H10

This course will study the ‘spy thriller’ and its antecedents as a distinctly marked sub-genre in modern fiction. It will begin with theoretical considerations of form and genre, examine the psychology of surveillance and espionage in social and historical manifestations, and look at the development of the genre in the twentieth century, reaching its peak in the Cold War novel. Texts for special study may include Kipling, Buchan, Greene, Deighton, Fleming and Le Carre among others.

  1. Writing Leisure Eng/PG/H11

The first part of this course will identify the construction of the notions of ‘leisure’ in the post-Industrial Revolution period. We will look at examples of products for the ‘leisure markets’ — both texts and non-text commodities. The primary texts will be examples of the evolution of the ‘popular taste’. Secondary texts will consist primarily of books and essays from ‘Culture Studies’ and will include books/essays by Graham Murdock, Nicholas Garnham, Adorno and Horkheimer, Bakhtin, Barthes, Stuart Hall, Laura Mulvey, Ien Ang.

  1. Learning English? A Study of Text Books in English Eng/PG/H12

The history of English teaching in India; relevant reports of various Commissions on Education; analysis of textbooks. The first part of the course will consist of reading secondary texts like Gauri Vishwanathan. The second part will consist of reading relevant sections of Commissions and policy statements like Macaulay, Sadler Commission, Tara Chand Commission, Kothari Commission. The third part will consist of project work where students will look at textbooks for teaching English to analyse them. They will submit a project report for evaluation.

  1. Literature and Film Eng/PG/H13

This course will examine the relationship between literature and film using some key cinematic transformations of classical literary texts (Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay and Rays’ trilogy; Shakespeare and Kurosawa; Dostoyevsky and Bresson etc) as well as popular texts (Frankenstein and its several film versions, Dracula and the films it has spawned, more recently the film versions of the works of Tolkien and Rowling etc.) It will study the role of literature in the development of cinema, its growing independence from the literary and the body of debate surrounding the role of literature in cinema. It will also investigate issues of the influence of cinema on literary writing.

  1. Performative Play: The Literature and Culture of Sport Eng/PG/H14

This course will study the complex cultural notion of ‘play’ and its embodiment in forms of human activity variously described as art, recreation, sport, games or literature. Beginning from the Greek paedeia, it will examine the culture of sport as well as the literature devoted to it, looking at risk-taking, game theory, and performance practices. Using Huizinga’s description of man as homo ludens, a being who plays, it will study the analogies between sport and literature as mimetic forms, and their social and historical interrelations. Texts to be read will range from Plato to Malamud and beyond.

  1. The Theban Plays of Sophocles Eng/PG/H15

Candidates are expected to read Sophocles’s Oedipus the King, Antigone and Oedipus at Colonus closely, and to explore some of the important questions raised in the plays with reference to selected landmark commentaries on them through the ages.

  1. Classical Tragedy Eng/PG/H16

This course will examine the origins and development of classical tragedy from Aeschylus to Seneca. It will require students to make a special study of major Greek and Latin tragedies, considering these plays in relation to myth, ritual, religion and law. The formal and structural characteristics of classical tragedy and the questions it raises concerning human freedom and responsibility will also be examined.

  1. Classical Comedy Eng/PG/H17

Course components: Origins of comedy; comedy and the polis; the dramatization of intelligence; reading of two plays by Aristophanes, one each by Menander and Plautus.

  1. Drama in Practice Eng/PG/H18

The idea that plays must be studied with reference to their staging is the pedagogical aim of this course. The instructor will direct a production of a text involving students in both onstage and backstage activities. Evaluation comprises papers and/or examinations on the selected play or author, as well as assessment of the students’ involvement and creative contribution to the project. Admission to this course will depend on auditions and tests conducted in the first week. Therefore, interested students must submit their resumes with relevant information to the instructor in advance.

  1. Special Author Eng/PG/H19

This course will offer students the opportunity to specialize in the work of any author of substantial importance.

  1. Children's Literature Eng/PG/H20

Literature written specially for children emerges as a significant category only in the nineteenth century (though there are antecedents in earlier periods) in the wake of pedagogical reform and new notions regarding the socialization of children. By the twentieth century it had come to constitute an influential and widely disseminated sub-genre, with its own divisions of ‘high’ and ‘low’, ‘literary’ and ‘popular’. This course will study the nature and historical development of the genre, looking at the great age of Victorian children’s fiction as well as contemporary development sin the genre to suit changed markets.

  1. Science Fiction Eng/PG/H21

The course will be an introduction to science fiction, from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Apart from studying key SF texts — both novels and short stories — the course will also examine the social, historical, scientific and cultural contexts of the origin and growth of the genre.

  1. Linguistics Eng/PG/H22

This course will offer an overview of the scope of contemporary linguistics, emphasizing both theoretical and practical applications. Students will gain an insight into historical linguistics and sociolinguistics as well as transformational-generative grammar.

  1. Language and Thought Eng/PG/H23

This course will explore fundamental questions of cognition and verbalization, linking the discipline of literary studies with the cognitive sciences and linguistics. It will focus upon the generation of meaning in human discourse and examine problems of semantics and philosophical linguistics.

  1. Death in Western Civilization Eng/PG/H24

The course begins with the Plaotinc view of death and moves through an historical overview of Western civilization’s attitudes and practices vis-à-vis death and mortality. What did death mean in antiquity? Did Christianity offer a different notion of death? How did politics, philosophy and psychoanalysis transform the understanding of the literary representations of death? These are some of the questions that the course will explore.

  1. Literature and Medicine Eng/PG/H25

This course will include literature about illness, epidemics and the science and practice of medicine. The course aims to look at the ways in which representations of disease and health in literary texts are determined by the science and practice of medicine. The course will also explore the cultural context within which notions about healers and healing can be understood in literary texts.

  1. Writing in Practice Eng/PG/H26

This course is designed to give students the basic technical and stylistic skills necessary to write creative prose. It will use insights from critical theory but focus on the craft of writing and the art of evoking reader response. Students will develop their creativity through writing exercises and performance and become acquainted with the basics of writing professionally. They will be evaluated on the artistic quality, originality, and polish of their works. As evaluation there will be four one-hour-long sessions of presentations open to the entire department in the final week of the course, and a final written examination.


Candidates will have to complete the course-work indicated below after which, at the end of the first year of study, they will appear for the M.Phil. Qualifying Examination. Successful candidates must then present a thesis on a research area of their choice.

Course contents

PAPER I: Theory of Literature 100 marks

Group A: General Theory 50 marks

This course will cover the major years of theoretical interest in literary studies, such as representation, form, imagination and symbol, as well as different theoretical approaches to literature, such as Marxist, feminist, structuralist and post-structuralist.

Group B: Special Theory 50 marks

Candidates may choose any one of the following options:

(i) Theory of Poetry (ii) Theory of Drama (iii) Theory of Fiction

Each course will be supervised by a specially assigned course co-ordinator, who will be responsible for the design and structure of the course contents.

PAPER II: Background to Literature 100 marks

Group A: General Background 50 marks

The social, economic historical and intellectual background to literary production will be examined through a series of seminars, lectures and student presentations extending from the earliest periods of European literary culture to the present day.

Group B: Special Background 50 marks

Students may opt to study a specific historical period in depth by choosing from among a range of special areas offered by the Department, from the medieval to the modern periods.

THESIS: After the successful completion of the M.Phil. Qualifying Examination, candidates will be required to submit a thesis of roughly 20,000-30,000 words on any specialized area of their choice, under the supervision of a teacher appointed by the Faculty of the Department.

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