NIHIL ULTRA: Nothing Beyond

Department of English (B.A.)

Dr. Suchandana Bhattacharyya  M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.
Head of the Department
The Department of English is one of the oldest departments of the college. Staffed by a committed team of professors, the Department has attained a high standard of academic excellence. The undergraduate programme in English has been designed to provide students with a strong foundation in English Literature. Covering a wide range of texts, authors, movements, literary trends, theories and schools of criticism, the course equips students for further study and research in the subject. It is also intended to be proactive and to make the study of literature exciting and challenging. Students are encouraged to participate in the teaching-learning process to develop their skills for original, independent and analytical thinking and appreciation. Strategies of teaching include the lecture method, audio-visual techniques, student seminars and class discussions.

Courses

The Department offers a B.A. (Honours) programme in English as well as elective courses in English (Ancillary) and English (General). The courses in Compulsory English and Alternative English (Modern Indian Language) are also conducted by the Department.

The three-year undergraduate programme in English is divided into six semesters. The syllabus in each semester introduces the students to literary study and focuses on critical techniques, approaches and debates to provide the students with the basic tools for literary analysis and appreciation. The introductory survey of the history of English Literature is complemented by the study of set texts which have been contextualized within specific literary periods allowing the study of major figures/ works within their cultural, literary and political contexts. The final semester offers a special course in American Literature.

Continuous Internal Assessment is an integral part of the curriculum. Continuous assessment in each semester is on the basis of tutorials, term papers, seminars and tests.

The department offers an English (Ancillary) course to students with Honours in Political Science, Sociology and Bengali. Over three semesters the program introduces the student to major English poets, novelists and dramatists. The course is designed to teach the student the basics of literary analysis and appreciation and update him with major trends and works of English Literature. The syllabus also has a language component intended to train the student in reading, comprehension and writing skills.

The English (General) course, designed for B.A. (General) students, is for three years divided over six semesters. The course offers an overview of English poetry, prose and drama aims to create an interest in the study of English Literature through a study of texts, literary terms and related concepts.

The department conducts a course in Compulsory English which has to be taken by all B.A. and B.Sc students. The Alternative English course is generally offered to students who did not have Hindi or Bengali as Second Language in their Board examination.

As part of the college's vision of academic expansion, the Department will begin a Postgraduate programme in English from July 2017. The department sees the M.A. as a natural extension of the undergraduate course and has consequently carefully designed the B.A. syllabus to seamlessly segue into the M.A. programme.

Teacher-Student Ratio

In a single lecture period, a teacher addresses a class of sixty students.

Faculty

The professors of the Department are involved in serious academic research. Prof. Christina Mirza, specializing in Victorian women's poetry and Modern poetry, has also pursued research in literature and music. Prof. Bertram Da Silva's interests include Modern Poetry, American Fiction post 1960 and music. The research interests of Prof Partho Mukherji include Philology, Modern drama, Romantic and Victorian poetry. Dr. Chandrani Biswas, specializing in African-American women's writing, has contributed to reputed anthologies. Dr. Argha Banerjee, whose research interests include Romantic poetry, Modern poetry and Indian writing in English, has several publications to his credit in national and international journals. Dr. Suchandana Bhattacharyya's research interests include American Literature, modern drama and fiction. Rev. Fr. Shaju Joseph specializes in modern American theatre, literature and films. Prof. Uddalak Dutta is currently engaged in research on Indian Theatre.

Faculty members of the department regularly attend and make presentations at both national and international level seminars. Some of these presentations have been converted into publications in various literary journals. Some faculty members have been involved in post-graduate teaching. Faculty members have also been part of syllabus-formation and revision committees, besides fulfilling their regular academic obligations as paper setters, moderators and examiners in various University and Public Service Commission examinations.

Research Work and Publications

The members of the faculty are involved in serious academic research. Prof. Dr. Chandrani Biswas has several articles published in anthologies of repute such as "Women in Protest Literature" in "Mightier Than Machete" edited by Harish Narang, Wiley Eastern Ltd., New Age International Publishers Ltd. in collaboration with Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi. Her book "Woman and War" published by Books Plus, New Delhi is part of the African Literature course at the post-graduate and research levels in the Department of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, School of Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research interests include African women's writings in English, African-American literature, Romantic poetry, Jane Austen and female writing tradition.

Prof. Bertram Da Silva's interests include Shakespearean theatre, Modern American literature, poetry and music. He has been a part of post graduate teaching in the University of Calcutta.

The research interests of Prof. Partho Mukherji include Philology, Modern drama, Romantic and Victorian poetry. His publications include 'Introduction to Jesperson's Growth and Structure of English Language and Studying Synge's "Riders to the Sea". Both the books have been published by Book World, Kolkata, 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Prof. Dr. Argha Bannerjee has made several conference presentations both at home and abroad. His research interests include Romantic and Modern Literature and Indian Writing in English. He was a Commonwealth Research Scholar at the Department of English, University of Sussex, U.K. where he wrote his doctoral thesis on 'Gender and Poetry of the First World War'. His publications include among other works "Female Voices in Keat's Poetry" (Atlantic Publishers). Besides this he has also contributed to international journals of repute like Keats and Shelley Review and Working with English (journal of the Department of English, Nottingham University, U.K.). He is also actively associated with the CSRL, the Centre for Studies in Romantic Literature. He is also on the guest faculty of Department of English, Jadavpur University.

Prof. Christina Mirza's research interests include nineteenth century literature and American Literature. She also imparts French courses to the students of the college.

Prof. Suchandana Bhattacharyya's research interests include American Literature and Modern drama and Fiction. She has contributed to the Journal of English department, University of Calcutta. Recently she has submitted her doctoral thesis in Afro-American Literature at the University of Calcutta. She has participated and presented papers in several workshops and seminars organized by Women's Studies Department, Calcutta University and JUJAS, Jadavpur University.

Rev. Fr. Shaju Joseph's research interests include modern American theatre with special reference to the Theatre adaptations of the plays of Tennessee Williams. At present Fr. Shajau is involved in doctoral research on the theme of representation of evil in modern novels.

Performance and Achievements

The academic performance of the students of the department has been consistently good for the last few years. Nine students have secured first class in the first autonomous batch. A lot of students secure admissions to prestigious post-graduate courses in India such as JNU, DU, CIEFL (Hyderabad) , University of Bombay, Jadavpur University, University of Calcutta, Rabindra Bharati University etc. Quite a few students are pursuing programs in higher research in universities abroad. Students of the college actively participate in various extra-curricular activities organized by the English Academy and Fine Arts Society such as inter-college creative writing competitions, debates, exhibition of paintings and photography etc.

The syllabus of the Department of English has been designed to provide the students of this undergraduate program with a strong foundation in English Literature. The course will equip them for further study and research in the subject. It is also intended to be proactive and to make the study of literature exciting and challenging. Students will be encouraged to participate in the teaching -learning process to develop their skills for original, independent and analytical thinking and appreciation.

The three-year undergraduate program in English is divided into six semesters - the syllabus in each semester introduces the students to literary study and focuses on critical techniques, approaches and debates to provide the students with the basic tools for literary analysis and appreciation. The students study set texts, which have been contextualized within specific literary periods allowing them to examine major figures/ works within their cultural, literary and political contexts. In turn they will be introduced to literary forms, terms and theories through the texts they study.

Continuous Internal Assessment is an integral part of the curriculum. Continuous assessment in each semester is on the basis of tutorials, term papers, seminars and tests.

The department offers a course in Elective English to students with Honours in Political Science or Sociology. The program in Elective English introduces the student to major English poets, novelists and dramatists. The course is designed to teach the student the basics of literary analysis and appreciation and update him with major trends and works of English Literature. The syllabus also has a language component intended to train the student in reading, comprehension and writing skills.

The department conducts a course in Compulsory English which has to be taken by all B.A. and B.Sc students. The Alternative English course is generally offered to students who did not have Hindi or Bengali as Second Language in their Board examination.

Faculty members of the department who are actively engaged in research work regularly attend and make presentations at both national and international level seminars. Some of these presentations have been converted into publications in various literary journals. Some faculty members have been involved in post-graduate teaching. Faculty members have also been part of syllabus-formation and revision committees, besides fulfilling their regular academic obligations as paper setters, moderators and examiners in various University and Public Service Commission examinations.

The department organizes seminars and workshops, creative writing sessions, literary quizzes, and fine-arts exhibitions through the cultural societies, The English Academy and The Fine Arts Society which are run by department teachers.

The academic reputation of the department is testified by the phenomenal rise in number of applications evinced every year. Listed by India Today as one of the best English undergraduate departments in the country, we offer the student an exciting, challenging and stimulating experience which will not only provide him or her with a strong foundation in the subject but also develop intellectual and analytical skills that the student may take with him or her into other fields of study or professional life.

Activities

The activities of the Department of English are designed to harmonise with the serious pursuit of literary studies. While students are encouraged to participate in the teaching-learning process by presenting student papers in the course of the semester, the Department also creates other forums for expression and discussion. Department Workshops and Seminars are organized to open up new approaches to the subject and to expose students to areas of areas of research interest beyond the framework of the syllabus.

At the First Year seminar on 'Poetry and the Other Arts' on 18th September 2014 students were encouraged students to adopt inter-disciplinary approaches to literature. Student presentations explored the relationship between poetry and other art forms such as music, cinema, painting and comic illustrations.

On 18th March, 2015, at a Department Seminar, Dr. Malcolm Sen, Irish Council Fellow, Harvard University, delivered a talk on 'Inheriting the Global Commons: Literary Study and the Climate Change Crisis'. Presenting a critical new area of research, Dr. Sen's paper addressed the issue of climate change and, discussing the relevance of Environmental Studies to literature, introduced students to the new genre of 'cli-fi'.

At the Department Seminar on 'Cartoons and Caricatures', held on 9th October, 2015, well-researched and illustrated student papers traced the development of the comic and looked critically at the literary and political aspects of the cartoon and the literary caricature. Bulbul Rajagopal and Sharmistha Chatterjee examined Quentin Blake's illustrations of Roald Dahl's work in 'Grown Ups: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly'. In 'Hergé: A Look over the Shoulder of the Creator of Tintin', Arunashish Sen researched the creation of the popular Tintin comic books while Sayantani Mukhopadhyay's presentation on 'Punch magazine' analysed the satirical and political impetus of Punch magazine cartoons. The last two papers of the day, 'War on the "Leaden Front" presented by Chandril Chattopadhyay, Paushali Bhattacharya and Moumita Mukherjee and 'The Use of Animation and Propaganda in the Second World War' by Vidit Sahewala, focused on the use of popular Disney cartoons and animation films as propaganda in the World Wars.

A Crime Fiction Writing Workshop was organized by the Department of English in association with the British Council, Kolkata, on the 14th and 15th January, 2016. The two day workshop was conducted by Dom Hastings, Director of Bloody Scotland, Scotland's International Crime Writing Festival and attended by fifty students from the English department of the college. Following an introduction to the genre and an interactive discussion on classic crime fiction, students engaged in practical exercises in crime fiction writing. Six Third Year students were also selected to participate in a Workshop on Creative Poetry Writing on 29th January, 2016, conducted by British poet, Melissa Lee-Houghton, and organized by the British Council & Poetry Paradigm.

On 2nd March 2016, the English Department held a seminar conducted by Dr. Jane Dowson, Reader in Twentieth-Century Literature at De Montfort University, Leicester, a critically acclaimed author and an authority on Twentieth-Century women's poetry, on 'One Hundred Years of British Women's Poetry'. Based on Dr. Dowson's own extensive archival research, the one hour talk traced a tradition of women's poetry and covered issues that that ranged from the gender dynamics of writing poetry as a woman to surviving as a woman poet in a male-dominated patriarchal society. The session ended with a discussion of poems by twentieth-century women poets including Frances Cornford, Anna Wickham, Sylvia Plath, Carol Rumens, Imitiaz Dharker and Carol Ann Duffy.

The Department also organizes film screenings followed by seminars and class discussions on prescribed texts such as The Importance of Being Earnest, Pride and Prejudice, Huckleberry Finn, Look Back in Anger and Twelfth Night.

The English Academy and The Fine Arts Society, cultural societies run by department teachers, also offer students the opportunity to participate in literary quizzes, creative writing competitions, art and photography exhibitions and western music concerts.

Student Achievements

The academic performance of the students of the department has been consistently good. Many have gone on to pursue post-graduate studies in English at Jawarharlal Nehru University, Jadavpur University, Presidency University and the English and Foreign Language University (Hyderabad) while some have diversified into higher studies in journalism and media studies, the social sciences and management. Several students are pursuing programs in higher research in universities abroad.

The extra-curricular activities of the students reveal the variety of their interests: they are involved in theatrical and film productions, music, advertisement and art exhibitions, debating, social causes, environmental issues and animal rights. Several students have interned with reputed newspapers like The Telegraph and The Statesman and have written for online magazines and websites. Manisha Ganguly, a panelist at a discussion on 'Gender and the Indian Education System' organized by Penn State University, was selected for the 'Create to Inspire Fellowship 2014' and presented a paper and exhibited her artwork & films at the Feminist Art Conference at OACD University, Toronto, Canada (2015). Student teams participate in inter-college creative writing competitions and literary quizzes. Meghna Sapui won the Romantic Quiz organized by the Centre for Studies in Romantic Literature, 7th February 2014.The students of the department are also actively engaged in the various extra-curricular activities organized by the English Academy and Fine Arts Society.

Among NCC cadets, Bodhi Darshanee Rai distinguished herself by being selected for the Republic Day Camp at New Delhi. She was Commentator for the Defense Minister and the Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air force and received the Governor's Medal, 2015. She represented India in the Youth Exchange Programme in Sri Lanka in held in October-November 2015 and received the Sri Lankan Cadet Medal, 2015.

The department has several talented sportspersons. Abhishikta Rudra won the Calcutta University Inter College Table Tennis Tournament, 2014 and represented Calcutta University in the All India Table Tennis Competition in 2013 and 2014. Siddharth Joshi represented Calcutta University in Basketball at the All India Inter University level held in Benaras, 2014. Manikankana Sengupta, Urmimala Sengupta and Aafreen Naaz were winners at the Team Event at the Calcutta University Table Tennis Trials while Tina Dey and Steffy Jose represented the college at the State Basketball Championship.