Ever since their inception, the departments of English in India have never been mere broadcasters of English or other literatures. Besides involving in qualitative research on national literatures,they have always played the role of cultural negotiators. Constantly engaged with the language, literature and culture of the region,they have brought in the traditions of foreign cultures to their own cultures and vice versa. The really distinctive feature of our department lies in the fact that it is finely and firmly aligned with this great tradition of English departments in India. We need to remember that this rare and fine tenor of English departments and teachers is fast declining. In this context the contribution of our department is significant and noteworthy. C. N. Ramachandran’s work on the Kannada folk epics, Kishori Nayak’s translation project relating to third world feminisms, D. R. Shashidhara’s contributions to several Sahitya Akademi translation projects are some of the pointers in this direction. A cultural Journal titled Arivu Baraha was published in Kannada under the editorship of R Shashidhar. Much of the research in the Department has involved working across languages and cultures. The Department has also built up a canon of regional literatures by including several translated texts in the Degree and Post Graduate Programmes.
The department came into existence in 1981 and is about 40 years old. It offers MA and Ph.D. degree programmes. From February 1984, the well-known literary critic and bilingual writer Prof. C. N. Ramachandran was at the helm of affairs and moulded the Department. After his retirement, he continued as Professor Emeritus during 1996-98. Prof. Elizabeth Hewitt of SUNY, USA taught in the department as a visiting Fulbright Scholar during 1985. During the 1990s, the Department had visiting Professors like Prof. T.R.S. Sharma and Prof. D.A. Shankar, both well-known scholars and translators.
The present faculty consists of four Professors, most of whom have had international exposure at the postdoctoral level with Commonwealth Fellowships / visiting lectureships / bursaries: Dr. R. Shashidhar(retired, April 2020) and Dr. KishoriNayak K. have been Commonwealth Fellows. Dr. Ravishankar Rao was Visiting Lecturer at Volda University, Norway. Dr. D. R. Shashidhara has been in IIAS Shimla on an Associateship. As a part of her research Dr. Parinitha visited the Basel Mission Archives, Switzerland, in 2019.
Distinctive Features of the Department
The postgraduate degree programme in English is structured to train students in negotiating cultural practices and texts such as literature, drama and films. The core courses are built around British literature from Chaucer to the Twentieth Century. Another focal area is Indian Literature ranging across genres from the classical period to contemporary times. In addition to these areas, the course introduces the students to a multitude of literatures from around the world viz., American Literature, European Classics in English Translation, African-American Fiction, American Drama and Canadian Literature in English. The MA programme also includes in its ambit, a range of theoretical and narrative texts on gender, caste, class, race and religion through courses such as Dalit Literature, Gender Studies, Women Writing in India and Film Studies. Besides literature per se, the programme also aims at training future teachers of English. With this view in mind, a specially designed language teaching paper is offered as also a paper on the structure of the English language. These papers are further supported with a modest language lab to train students in phonetics and grammar.
The Department has produced 20 MPhils and 25 PhDs to date. At present, there are 59 research scholars of whom 35 have registered themselves for the doctoral programme offered by the department, while 24are workingwith guides from the constituent / autonomous colleges. Besides undertaking post-doctoral research in various areas, through UGC Major Research Projects, in areas such as feminism, translation and life narratives, the department is engaged in guiding doctoral research in the fields of Gender Studies, Postcolonial Studies, American Literature, Partition Literature, Translation Studies, Comparative Literature, Culture Studies and Missionary Writings. It has five recognised guides at present for doctoral studies on campus, two guides in constituent colleges and four more in its recognised research centres in autonomous /affiliated colleges. Our future plans for the Department include developing a Centre for Post-Colonial Studies
The Department is poised to meet the challenges of the changing times with confidence: all our students are able to find placements immediately after successful completion of the MA course. Going by past records, the career openings include opportunities in teaching, public relations, human resources, translation, book publishing and editing, film script writing/directing, etc.
Over the years, the Department has organized several annual ELT workshops and 5 UGC Refresher Courses, besides one international conference and three national conferences. Many internationally recognized scholars like Prof. C. D. Narasimhaiah, Prof.AyyappaPanikkar, Prof. U.R. Ananthamurthy, Prof. Shanthinath Desai, Dr. GirishKarnad, Prof. Harish Trivedi, Prof. Prafulla C. Kar, Prof. Susie Tharu, Prof. Stephen Slemon, Prof. P.K. Rajan, Prof. UdayNarayana Singh, and others have visited the Department to deliver expert lectures.