The Department of English Literature began to offer the M.Phil. and the Ph.D. programmes from 2003 and 2004 respectively. The Master’s Programme was initiated in the year 2015 and is, hence, a relatively new academic form of expansion of the Shillong Campus of The English and Foreign Languages University. Since its inception, the Department has remained very vibrant and contributory to the unique humanistic and multilingual ethos of the University. It is dedicated, with the help of eminent teachers, scholars and critics, to the production of literary and philosophical knowledge as well as to providing opportunities to innovate and specialize. The comparative newness of the emergence of the Department capacitates it to remain open and responsive to the modern and postmodern changes to the world and to diverse epistemologies. The Department, also, from time to time has remained a site for convergence of ideas by way of special talks and lectures by literature practitioners and writers.
The vision of the Department of English Literature is constituted of imparting a strong humanistic education that would serve to nurture the very essential qualities of the students as conscientious human individuals who would not only be able to appreciate textualities in literature but also be able to attempt a critique of life and human experience at large. The academic exchanges attempt to ensure, or more specifically nurture, the aesthetic competence of the students by enabling them to question, contradict, construct and reconstruct thoughts, ideas and interpretations. Interdisciplinarity, criticality, historicity and theoreticality remain at the heart of the Courses thereby giving the students an understanding of the essence of the varied forms of literature. These forms do not pertain to identifying literariness only in British texts, but also in representations across genres and continents. Literatures in diverse ‘Englishes’ are taken into account since the Department endorses neither the normative nor a monolithic significance of the expression ‘English’ in ‘English Literature’. Profundity in diverse experiences remains the quintessence of literature and the Department wishes to acknowledge and realize it by engaging in discourses that would accommodate polysemanticity and a multicultural milieu.
According to Vladimir Nabokov, ‘There is only one school of literature – that of talent.’ The Department seeks to nurture this talent in the students by whom the Department wishes to be remembered in the future. Literature serves as a gateway to a realization of the past and an expansion of one’s knowledge and understanding of the world. It deepens human awareness. What we seek to achieve at the Department would precisely include expanding
horizons, building critical thinking skills, knowing the past, appreciating other cultures and beliefs, developing critical writing skills and addressing humanity in all its possible aspects. The Department has a unique and exhaustive array of Syllabi for all the batches of both the B.A.-English (Hons.) and the Master’s-Degree levels. One of the primary objectives of the Department is to nurture a critical and research aptitude in the students. With a view to achieving this, the Department provides a hospitable environment for every kind of research with some new academic fields being significantly conceived. Among them are the study of Visual Cultures including Digital Humanities, New Humanities, Critical Humanities, Nation and Narration, Literary Cultures of India, Indian Poetics, the Indian Classical Poetic Tradition, Time and Narrative, Life Writing, Ecology and Literature, The Novel and the City, Film Studies, and Text and Performance Studies. These Courses have been introduced at various levels of study so that the students gain a fair idea about the burgeoning areas of discourses on literature. The Syllabi have been meticulously designed by a worthy team of Professors and are so oriented as to provide the students with an in-depth understanding of the core aspects of English Literature along with a comprehensive background to its history and traditions of reception. The Department also keeps track of 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, imagination and intellectual activity, through exhaustive Courses on Literary Criticism and Theory. The Department encourages and facilitates interdisciplinary studies and research, too, for fostering a comprehensive and humane understanding of cultures and civilizations.
The curriculum of M.A. in English Literature comprises Courses like Poetry: 16 th to 18 th Centuries, Drama: 16 th to 18 th Centuries, Teaching of Literature, Prose and Fiction: 16 th to 18 th Centuries, Romantic and Victorian Poetry, 19 th – and 20 th -century Drama, 19 th -century Prose and Fiction, Film Studies, Literary Criticism and Theory: Classical, Neo-Classical, Romantic and Modern, 20 th -century Poetry, 20 th -century Prose and Fiction, Indian Literatures: The Diverse Literary Cultures of India and their Texts, Literary Criticism and Theory: Contemporary (Postmodern and Poststructuralist), and Indian Literatures: Women’s Writing, Dalit Literature and Tribal Literature. Some seminal texts are included in the Syllabi for self-study by the students on which they are required to pursue academic assignments and do presentations.
There are Courses of considerable significance in the M.A.-English programme that are offered by the Department, for instance, Poetry from Chaucer to Shakespeare, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, 19 th -century Fiction, Romantic Poetry, Literary Criticism,20 th -century Literature, Modern British Drama, Indian Writing in English, and Contemporary Indian Writing and Emerging Identities. The Department also, as is mentioned earlier, offers Courses in literature to the students of the B.A.-English (Hons.) programme, that include the Emergence of Literature in English: Old and Middle English Periods, Renaissance and Restoration Literatures, Drama: Texts, Contexts and Performance, Neo-classical and
Romantic Literature, Poetry: Structure and Interpretation, Nineteenth-century Literature, Prose Genres: Form and Function, Twentieth-century Literature, Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism, World Literatures and Indian Writing in English.
The students have access to a wide range of books and journals on literature, literary criticism and theory in the Library of the Campus that is equipped with state-of- the-art infrastructural facilities. Important e-Journals can also be availed by the students. Besides, they have a language laboratory with 30 multimedia computers installed with the latest software for English and foreign-language learning and practice. Film Studies and Text and Performance, being constitutive elements of the curriculum for M.A. in English Literature, relevant and critically acclaimed films are often screened in the Studio and the Multimedia Laboratory of the Campus, in order to supplement the theoretical – both narrativistic and technical – understanding of the students. These infrastructures are also often used for special lectures on films. In addition to the multimedia computers, ten other machines with an internet facility are available to students for pursuing their academic assignments and other research projects. Moreover, the Multi-purpose Hall of the Campus is often used by the students for extra-curricular activities, including academic presentations and other cultural programmes.