The Department of Indian and World Literatures reflects the expansion, diversification and confluences both at the institutional level and in the dynamic disciplinary field of literary studies. The history of the department begins in December 2009, when the Department of Commonwealth Literary Studies came into being with three members of faculty, Dr T. Nageswara Rao (Professor), Dr N. Ramadevi (Professor), and Dr S. Chinnadevi (Assistant Professor). In 2010 two more Assistant Professors, Dr V. Raju Nayak and Mr Jai Singh joined the department. In October 2013, as part of an organizational restructuring exercise, the Department of Commonwealth Literary Studies was rechristened the Department of Indian and World Literatures. This development coincided with the merger of two more departments which had hitherto existed as the Department of American and Caribbean Literatures and the Department of Literary Theory and Criticism. With this merger, the faculty strength of the Department of Indian and World Literatures has gone upto nine, with one Associate Professor, Dr T. Subramanyam, and three more Assistant Professors, namely Dr Jibu Mathew George, Dr Shyam Babu and Dr Rahul Narayan Kamble joining the newly created department.
At present, the Department of Indian and World Literatures is one of the four departments that constitute the School of Literary Studies. It has nine faculty members: two Professors, one Associate Professor and six Assistant Professors:
Prof. T. Nageswara Rao
Prof. N. Rama Devi, Head of the Department and Dean, School of Literary Studies
Dr T. Subramanyam
Dr S. Chinnadevi
Dr Rahul Narayan Kamble
Dr Jibu Mathew George
Dr V. Raju Nayak
Dr Shyam Babu
Mr Jai Singh
Guidelines for foreign nationals who wish to avail themselves of the ITEC/SCAAP fellowship/scholarship are given below:
In terms of its disciplinary reach, the mandate of the Department of Indian and World Literatures is one of the broadest conceivable, and encompasses both traditional and emerging areas of literary studies. The department promotes advanced studies in the theory and practice of literature and other arts produced in the Americas, Europe, the Indian Subcontinent and other geographical areas which have been politically designated as the Commonwealth. At a point of time in intellectual history when literary canons undergo radical revisions, it proposes to extend and explore the literary and experiential claims of culturally less-known areas of writing, and professes an intellectual approach characterized by self-conscious openness and rigorous methodological eclecticism. This academic openness is evident in the rich variety of programmes and courses offered and supported by the department, the areas in which research is carried out and knowledge generated.
The Department offers a PhD Programme in English (Indian and World Literatures). The programme provides scholars the opportunity to pursue research in areas as diverse as classical and contemporary European writing, American, African-American and Latin American literatures and cultures, Postcolonial literatures and criticism, and other emerging literatures, available both in English and in translation. Scholars are also encouraged to pursue research in the broad field of critical humanities. The PhD Programme in English (Indian and World Literatures) is an intensive research programme with a duration of three to five years. The programme consists of one year of course work and submission of a doctoral dissertation. In the first two semesters, the participants will have to do 4 courses of 5 credits each. Two of these courses cover research methods in literary studies, and introduce the participants to advanced critical practices. The courses discuss models of literary reasoning and the dynamics of writing at the graduate level, and help scholars build conceptual frameworks and streamline their research projects. The remaining courses are designed to suit the scholar’s requirements in his/her area of research, and are decided in consultation with the supervisor. After the completion of the course work, the scholars submit a 50-page mini-thesis, which is evaluated by an advisory committee constituted to monitor the work of the scholar on a continuous basis. Once the mini-thesis is approved, the scholar is eligible to write the doctoral dissertation, which will have to be submitted within the stipulated period.
Since the inception of the department in 2009, forty nine research scholars, including one foreign national, have joined the PhD programme, out of which three have submitted their dissertations, while forty six are in progress. Twenty seven of these are men and twenty two are women participants. The department strictly follows the reservation norms laid down by Government of India. As is the case with most programmes of the University, the research scholars in the department hail from all parts of the country, thus ensuring a cosmopolitan intellectual and social ambience. This enables scholars to adapt to and learn from the cultural repertoire and values different from their own.
The faculty of the department offer several courses for the MA English Programme, which is offered under the Cafeteria system. At the departmental level, as many as eight courses of this sort are on offer every semester. The courses offered by the department (3 departments that got merged as the department of IWL in 2014) in the last six years include:
Postcolonialism: A Theoretical Introduction
Modernism: A Theoretical Introduction
Feminist Theories in the World: A Critical Introduction
Women Novelists and their Worlds (20th- and 21st-Century Women’s Fiction)
Cosmopolitanism and Contemporary Fiction
An Introduction to Commonwealth Literature
Contemporary American Drama
Post-War Political Drama
Post-War British Drama
The Holocaust: Paradigms of Thought
By Obstinate Isles: Introducing Modernist Fiction
Reading James Joyce’s Ulysses
Imagining Colored America: African Americans and Literary Representation
Twentieth-Century American Fiction
Twentieth-Century European Fiction in Translation
Introduction to Psychological Thought
American and Caribbean Literatures: An Introduction
Childhood: Memory, Reality and Future
Childhood: Cultures, Representations and Invasions
African-American Women’s Writing
American Short Stories
Narratives of Conflict
Theatre: The Aesthetic and Activism
Indian Women’s Drama
Caribbean Poetry and Fiction
Brechtian Epic Theory and Post-Independence Modern Indian Drama
New Historicism and Modern Indian Drama
Theory in Context
Introduction to Structuralism
Fiction of Contemporary South Asian Women Writers: Beyond the Interiority of the Self
Theatre Theory of the ‘Third World’: An Introduction
Literature from the Margins
An Introduction to Tribal Culture and Society
Contemporary Theory: An Introduction
Comparative Study of Science Fiction: Novels from India and the West
Glimpses into the History of English Literature
Literature of Social Concern for the Underprivileged
Theorizing the Orient: Theory and Praxis in Indian Context
As is evident from the above list, many any of these courses are interdisciplinary, and makes use of insights, theories and approaches available from several schools of thought, and diverse cultures and disciplines. Besides the taught courses, many MA students also produce dissertations under the supervision of a teacher in their fourth semester. The provision for dissertations gives the students opportunity to engage in independent research work.
The faculty of the department has also been involved in designing and periodically revising the curriculum of the BA (Honours) Programme in English, and teaching courses on the BA Programme. The University’s BA (Honours) Programme is one of the most comprehensive in the country and covers the spectrum of humanities and social sciences. In the past, the departmental faculty have taught modules including: 1) Introduction to World Literatures; 2) Introduction to Literary Criticism; 3) Indian Writing in English 4) Emergence of Literature in English: Old and Middle English Periods; 4) Renaissance and Restoration Literatures; 5) Introduction to Drama; 6) Introduction: Texts, Contexts and Performance 7) Everyday Psychology: Theory and Practice; and 8) Communication Skills
The departmental faculty also teach in the contact sessions of programmes offered by the EFL-University in distance education mode – MA, Postgraduate Certificate in the Teaching of English (PGCTE) and Postgraduate Diploma in the Teaching of English (PGDTE) – as well as on non-formal courses such as the International Training Programme (ITP). As content writers, they also contribute to the production and periodic revision of self-instructional materials for programmes in the distance mode. The faculty have also served as subject experts for UGC-sponsored audio-visual E-Learning material produced by the Educational Multimedia Research Center (EMMRC). These programmes are available on the UGC Website, and are also broadcast by Doordarshan on the Countrywide Classroom channel sponsored by the UGC.
One of the foci of the courses is to help students connect the concepts learnt in the classroom to the practices of everyday life. The courses, and the teaching and learning processes are so designed as to understand the practical significance of humanistic knowledge, which often goes unappreciated. With its unique and multi-faceted academic praxis, the department has enabled participants effectively to amend the Roman playwright Seneca’s reproach of armchair philosophers, and assert Non scholae, sed vitae discimus (We do not study for the school, but for life).
Student choice is the cornerstone of the department’s programmes and courses. From the very start, students exercise choice and make their own decisions. The experience has been that this not only motivates and helps students perform always at their peak levels, but also diversify their interests and evolve over a period of time both personally and intellectually. Teachers are also able to offer new, interesting, research-based, and regularly updated courses, and student involvement and motivation are always high. Several courses feature workshops, talks, and lectures delivered by invited specialists and distinguished visitors on important aspects of the subjects covered. In the content and delivery of courses, the teachers emphasize discovery and critical thinking.
To ensure optimum achievement of learning outcomes, the department follows a pattern of evaluation which combines traditional and innovative assessment practices. Assessment comprises of a wide variety of modes ranging from class tests, assignments, presentations or response papers to a sit-down, open-book, or take-home examination, or a term paper.
The Department of Indian and World Literatures puts a premium on research and generation of knowledge. Two faculty members are principal investigators in projects sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR). Prof. T. Nageswara Rao is working on “Dialectics of Marginality and Modernity: A Case Study of Yanai Tribes of the Coastal Districts of Andhra Pradesh,” a Sponsored Research Project of ICSSR, under the Ministry of Human Resources Development. Similarly, Dr V. Raju Nayak has been working on a project entitled “Reconstructing Identity of the Lambada Tribes through Oral Language.” The research profile of the department is clear from the publications of the faculty and research scholars, and their participation in national and international conferences, symposia and seminars. Till date, the members of the faculty have delivered eleven keynote addresses, presented thirty six research papers in international conferences and fifty one in national conferences. The research scholars of the department are also actively encouraged to participate in conferences both in India and abroad. During the last five years, a relatively short period for a young department, they have presented twenty five research papers in international conferences, and nineteen in national conferences. The publication output of the department is also impressive. The members of the faculty have published three books (excluding one in progress), and fifty one articles in reputed national and international journals/chapters in edited volumes. The research scholars of the department have to their credit twenty six publications including journal articles and book chapters. Besides these critical writings, Dr S. Chinnadevi also published Ishq Ka Asar: Songs of Love , a collection of ghazals and songs in a blend of Hindi and Urdu, in January 2013 (Power Publishers, ISBN 9789382792000). Her poem “Nineteen Ninety-Four” also appeared in the anthology A Moment in Time, published by The National Library of Poetry, USA.
Apart from regular teaching, the department is also actively involved in the overall development of students admitted to various programmes. One of the department’s many student enrichment initiatives is the Indian and World Literatures Literary Meet, which is organized periodically. At the meet, both the students and faculty share their work and invite comments from the audience present. In Dr S. Chinnadevi, the Department has an accomplished poet, and under her nurture and guidance these literary gatherings expand the praxis of the department form the critical to the creative. Members of the faculty have also organized workshops on specific themes in literary studies. One such workshop, entitled “James Joyce and Literary Reasoning” was organized on 5 September 2013 for research scholars, for which Dr Jibu Mathew George, Assistant Professor in the department, served as the resource person. The workshop witnessed the close reading of the complex texts of the avant-garde modernist, which served as the point of departure for discussing pertinent questions in literary criticism.
The faculty of the department are not just interested in their subjects, they are equally interested in how their disciplines are taught and intellectually constituted, which explains the critical self-reflexiveness of the courses taught, and their periodic updation. They are an active part of major academic fora where insights and innovations are discussed and exchanged on a sustained basis. The faculty are members of professional organizations such as the Indian Society for Commonwealth Studies (ISCS), New Delhi; Indian Association for Canadian Studies, New Delhi; Indian Association for Commonwealth Literature, New Delhi; Forum on Contemporary Theory, Gujarat; Association for English Studies of India; Association for the Study of Esotericism (Michigan, USA); and The Literary Criterion Centre, Dhvanyaloka, Mysore.
Both the faculty and students participate in conferences and workshops organized within the country and overseas. The Department of Indian and World Literatures organized a two-day International Conference on “Postcoloniality in Transition: Cosmopolitanism, Transnationalism, and Globalization” during 16-17 January 2013. Eminent postcolonial theorists and writers such as Prof. Bill Ashcroft (University of New South Wales); Dr Tabish Khair (University of Aarhus), Prof. Meena Alexander (City University of New York), Prof. Makarand Paranjape (Jawaharlal Nehru University) and Prof. Rushmi D Bhatnagar (University of Pittsburgh) addressed the Conference. The Conference was attended by around one hundred and forty participants from all over the world, during which more than forty scholarly papers were presented besides five plenary talks by experts in the area of Postcolonial Studies. The Conference also featured a Round Table Discussion with Prof. Bill Ashcroft, Prof. Meena Alexander, Prof. Susie Tharu, Prof. T. Nageswara Rao, Dr Tabish Khair and Prof. Rushmi Dube Bhatnagar on the panel, with Prof. N Rama Devi as the Moderator. Another interesting feature of the Conference was the Poetry Reading Session in which poems were read out by Meena Alexander, Meena Kandasamy, Donna Potter and S. Chinnadevi.
Other eminent scholars who visited the Department include Prof. Arjun Appadurai, noted cultural theorist and anthropologist; Prof. Colin McCabe, University of Pittsburgh; Dr Alan Johnson, Idaho State University; Dr Seodial Frank Deena, East Carolina University; Prof. Craig Brandist, University of Sheffield. They gave lectures on various topics of interest and interacted with the students. During 21-22 January 2012, Prof. M. Dasan, Head, Department of Studies in English, Kannur University, Kerala, an authority on folk arts, delivered invited lectures on American, Native American and African-American Literatures.
Two members of the faculty, namely Dr N. Ramadevi and Dr S. Chinnadevi, taught for a period of three months at Technische Universität Dresden (TUD – Dresden University of Technology) as visiting fellows, on an exchange programme sponsored by Deutscher Akademisches Austausch Dienst (DAAD – German Academic Exchange Service). The programme also enabled two research scholars to spend a semester at TUD. It was a great opportunity for transcultural learning for both the faculty and students. In addition, Dr Jai Singh visited the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary for one-month research stay under Indo-Hungarian Educational Exchange Programme funded by Balassi Institute – Hungarian Scholarship Board Office and UGC; and University of Turku for three months under the Indo-Finnish Faculty Exchange Programme funded by CIMO Finland and UGC. Dr Jibu Mathew George was a research fellow at the Zurich James Joyce Foundation, Switzerland, with a ZJJF fellowship to work on the Joyce collection at the foundation. Two members of the faculty, Dr V. Raju Nayak and Dr Jibu Mathew George, received grants from the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) to participate in conferences abroad – Barcelona, Spain; and Lerwick-Unst, UK, respectively.
Several faculty members serve on committees of the UGC and the state government. The faculty also serve as resource persons in the Orientation Programmes and Refresher courses organized by various UGC-sponsored Academic Staff Colleges. They also deliver talks in workshops and other enrichment programmes, as well as participate in Extension programmes of social and political significance. Prof. T. Nageswara Rao has served as member of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), member of the Selection Committees, Academic Councils, Executive Councils, Board of Studies, and Board of Examinations of various universities. He has also delivered addresses at several institutions of teacher education. The faculty also serve on various administrative committees of the University such as the Campus Security Committee, the Purchase Committee, Anti-Ragging Committee. Dr T. Subramanyam has also discharged several inter-university obligations as examiner and member of selection committees. Being part of an institution which acts as a nodal agency for the improvement of education in the country, the faculty actively contribute to teacher training. Prof. N. Ramadevi has similarly coordinated and taught on a 21-Day Development Programme for the teachers of Navodaya Vidya Samithi, and Dr Jibu Mathew George delivered a lecture as part of the Stimulating Teachers through Advanced Training Programme (STAT), sponsored by the Government of Kerala for teachers from the state.
The strengths of the department include its research orientation, penchant for not only disseminating but also generating knowledge, and the diverse areas of academic specialization/interest on the part of the faculty. This enables the Department to offer courses and provide research supervision in a wide range of areas ranging from African-American Literature and Holocaust Studies to Contemporary Indian Theatre and Literature of the Marginalized.
The Department of Indian and World Literatures intends to introduce in near future a full-fledged Postgraduate Programme leading to an MA degree in World Literatures. The programme endeavours to bring under the rubric of literary studies the study of literatures, cultures and paradigms which are not adequately represented in university curricula, and redress the lacuna in this regard. Though the department already offers on its own the number of courses required for a program, it will also consider the feasibility of expanding the menu of courses by cross-listing across departments and schools, subject to minimum credit requirements under the Choice-Based-Credit System.
The department is interested in initiating Memoranda of Understanding with universities and other institutions of higher education in South America, Europe and East Asia, for the exchange of faculty and students. Two universities from Turkey, namely Okan University, Istanbul; and Hacettepe University, Ankara, have already expressed interest in a tie-up.
The department is also planning to undertake a UGC-SAP (Special Assistance Programme) project entitled Literature on Location. The concept Literature on Location is an ambitious and pioneering attempt at bridging cultural and geographical distances in the teaching and study of literary and related texts. The ‘exploratory’ project entitled Literature on Location aims at producing a series of exhaustively researched, academically and technically high-quality documentaries on selected areas of literary studies with on-location shoots, international expertise, and high production values. It endeavours comprehensively to engage in sound and vision the world that lies behind the composition and reception of the world’s acclaimed texts, historically, geographically and culturally contextualizing them in relevant traditions, epochs, and world views. The project aspires to bring to light and disseminate facts which are expected to redefine the way scholars, commentators, and critics understand and speak about texts, teachers teach them, students study them, and researchers grapple with their research problems. The project Literature on Location puts a premium on re-reading works and their elements as creative responses to specific socio-historical and personal ‘circumstances.’ It is expected to usher in more empirically based research, and facilitate theorizing of texts on firmly-rooted premises and verifiable data. This is expected to pave the way for greater degree of certainty and rigor in literary reasoning. On the one hand, since the project engages substantial historical, authorial, and socio-cultural questions, in as much as they impinge on creative processes, it may open up new perspectives on critical and scholarly methods themselves. On the other hand, it will provide resources, facts, and concepts for research on the authors/areas/epochs concerned, and thus give an impetus to author/area/epoch-specific studies.
The project Literature on Location is a direct implementation of one of the objectives outlined in The English and Foreign Languages University Act of 2006 as part of the mandate of the University – “to develop critical intercultural understanding of civilizations.” From the perspective of intercultural understanding of civilizations, the project envisages a comparative, analogical understanding of ideas, literatures, world views, and cultures. For instance, how can one understand the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico’s cyclical theory of history (ricorso) in the light of the concepts of Hindu cosmology such as mahamanvantara, pralaya, and kalpa? Is there a cross-cultural connection between Tri-Agni Maha Dhyan Yagna Vidya, the sacred homage of three fires, and the three sacred fires in Agamemnon’s palace in Mycenae, Greece? The documentaries will investigate such phenomena and concepts from an Indian (and Asian) hermeneutic perspective. After all, the prospective audience of the documentaries is Indian (and Asian).
The department is also planning a futuristic biennial workshop Literary Studies: Taking Stock, which intends to bring together authors, theorists, philosophers, academics, and researchers from around the world in a series of inter-disciplinary brainstorming sessions which deliberate the future course of literary research. As opposed to the concept of isolated thematically organized conferences, the workshop will endeavour towards bringing the cumulative effect of new approaches, changing paradigms, and other manifestations of expanding literary studies to bear on actual research. The project will also involve setting up a museum of Literature on Location.
In the long run, the department intends to undertake a project Works in Progress — A Project in Genetic Criticism in the Indian Context, aimed at reconstructing and analyzing the writing process that lies behind acclaimed texts. It also aims at setting up archives consisting of auctorial correspondence, manuscripts, and typescripts. Genetic approach does not content itself with one particular state of the text, as most approaches in literary studies do, but with the process by which the text came to be. The chief concern is not the ‘final’ text but the reconstruction and analysis of the writing process. Geneticists find endless richness in what Jean Bellemin-Noël calls the ‘avant-texte’: a critical gathering of the writer’s notes, sketches, drafts, manuscripts, typescripts, proofs and correspondence. Factoring in the temporal dimension of texts, Genetic Studies aspire to write the ‘biographies’ of books, and studies how the literary texts which are celebrated today actually took their present shape. In practice, it is a combination of biographical studies of writers, including the dynamic cognitive processes involved in writing, textual criticism and intertextual studies (influences and hypertexts). It is interested in the chronology of writing, and looks at the successive states of a book – alterations, exclusions, interpolations and approximations.
The Department is also in the process of planning summer schools in specific research area for the benefit of the research community in the country at large and for those working in those specific areas.
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