Department of English
The Department of English, Jadavpur University, founded in 1956, is the only Centre of Advanced Study in its discipline, a status awarded to it in 2004 by the University Grants Commission. In its long and distinguished history, it has attracted some of the best scholars and researchers in India. Past heads of department include Subodh Chandra Sengupta, Kitty Scoular Datta, and Sukanta Chaudhuri. Its chosen field of research for the CAS Programme is ‘Textuality and Culture’ (second phase: ‘Cultural Transactions’), and the work of its members has ranged from the Renaissance to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, translation, the history of the book, literature and psychoanalysis, subaltern literatures and oratures, postcolonial literature, media, gender, travel, popular literature, creative writing and theatre studies, producing, in the past five years alone, over 80 academic books under imprints such as Permanent Black and Oxford University Press, and over 200 articles in refereed journals.
While the Department provides a hospitable environment for every kind of research, some new academic fields created by it have had a significant impact on arts and humanities research in India. Among them are the study of textual and print culture and the history of the book, leading to a path-breaking series of conferences and publications in the field, Print Areas (Permanent Black, 2004), Moveable Type (2008) and New Word Order (2010), edited by Abhijit Gupta and Swapan Chakravorty. Practical courses are offered in both Creative Writing and Theatre Studies. ‘Writing in Practice’ is taught by the novelist and book historian Rimi B. Chatterjee and ‘Drama in Practice’ is taught by Ananda Lal, editor of the Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre. Plays by students are professionally staged under his direction.
Meanwhile, the Department continues to maintain its strength in traditional areas like Renaissance Studies, Romantic, Victorian and Modern Literature, and Translation. Recent CAS publications include Re-Orienting Orientalism, ed. Chandreyee Niyogi (Sage India, 2006), Reading Children: Essays on Children’s Literature, ed. N. Gupta and R. B. Chatterjee (Orient Blackswan, 2009), Renaissance Themes: Essays for Arun Kumar Das Gupta, ed. Sukanta Chaudhuri (Anthem, 2009), and Moneta’s Veil: The Hidden Face of the 19th Century, ed. Malabika Sarkar (Pearson, 2009), as well as new translations of Sharatchandra and Bankimchandra.
The impact of Europe upon India, both in the earliest period of contact and under colonialism, leading to radical transformations in all spheres of material culture and imaginative and intellectual activity, has been a major field for CAS and ASIHSS research. The Department is a partner in the Leverhulme Trust International Network Project on Commodities and Culture in the Colonial World with King’s College London, New York University, and the University of Technology, Sydney. It has created a Digital Archive of Renaissance Travellers to India with the University of Liverpool, worked on the Idea of the Renaissance across Cultures with the School of Advanced Studies, University of London, and on East-West Encounters in the History of the Book in Bengal. The CAS has sponsored important translation projects as well as research in all its areas of strength, and hosted international conferences, workshops and lectures. Recent conferences include The Expanding Universe: Science and Literature in the 19th century (2010), celebrating the Darwin bicentenary; Staged Encounters: History, Society, Identity, and Shakespeare, with the Shakespeare Association of America; On the Road: Writing Travel and Travellers, and Milton in his Time, the Milton Quatercentenary Conference (all 2008).
A Renaissance Resource Centre was set up with the support of the Italian culture ministry, and collaborative projects are under way with Italian universities like Bologna and Naples. The Centre for Studies in Romantic Literature, an independent institution, was set up by the Department’s Malabika Sarkar. An interdisciplinary Centre for Victorian Studies is proposed. Members of the Department have initiated and continue to direct a number of Interdisciplinary Schools in the University, such as Women’s Studies, Media, Languages, and Cultural Texts and Records. Within the Department, the curriculum is constantly revised and updated, and a wide variety of courses, ranging from ‘Graphic Novels’ to ‘Death in Western Civilization’ is offered to both undergraduates and postgraduate students in the semester system.
The Centre of Advanced Study welcomes scholars and researchers from other institutions in India and abroad, and has an active Visiting Fellowship programme, enabling intense and productive academic interaction at both individual and institutional levels. Visiting speakers are also regularly hosted. Research scholars find a stimulating and supportive environment, and there are around 3000 applications for 50 places in the undergraduate programme. Entry at all levels is through a demanding entrance examination.
Department of English
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