Department of English
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH
About the Department:
The foundation of Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh in 1877 under the aegis of the South Asian Muslim reformer and statesman Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan marks a watershed in the history of English education on the Indian subcontinent, among other things. It was no mere coincidence that Sir Sayyid’s son, Justice Syed Mahmood, delivered two incisive lectures on the rise, development, progress, and present condition of English Education in India during the eighth and ninth sessions of the Muhammadan Educational Conference held in the Central Hall of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in 1893 and 1894, respectively. These two lectures were finally brought together in 1895 in a volume titled A History of English Education in India: Its Rise, Development, Progress, Present Condition and Prospects, which remains a crucial point of reference for charting the career of English studies in South Asia and beyond.
English at Aligarh in its multiple avatars as Madrasatul Uloom Musalmanan-e-Hind (1875), Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College (1877), and Aligarh Muslim University (1920) has enjoyed pride of place in the larger educational and cultural project that its founder Sir Sayyid had relentlessly pursued throughout his life. Young professors from Oxford and Cambridge came to Aligarh at the invitation of Sir Sayyid. In 1885, Walter Raleigh, who would later become the first holder of the Chair of English Literature at Oxford University, joined Aligarh to teach English and philosophy. That AMU called its literary society after Professor Raleigh bears out his enduring influence on the University at large. The Raleigh Literary Society and various student discussion forums at the English Department carry forward Sir Sayyid’s mission to nurture imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and debate.
The Department of English is the proud inheritor of a legacy that is remarkable for the light it sheds on the formative trajectories of the discipline of English studies in India. In this spirit, the Department, one of the country's largest and oldest Humanities departments, continues its pursuit of excellence in teaching and researching the capacious field of English studies by upholding critical and methodological openness, including interdisciplinary inquiry. Through its wide-ranging and eclectic syllabi and curricula across undergraduate, postgraduate and research programmes of study in both English Language Teaching (ELT) and literary and cultural studies (English), the Department has always embraced the developments at the cutting edge of contemporary humanities scholarship, while proudly preserving the traditional strengths of the discipline of English. Shakespeare Studies and Comparative Literature, for example, are areas the Department has been known for historically. At the same time, it now features on its curricula such interdisciplinary areas of inquiry as Digital Humanities, Medical Humanities, and Environmental Humanities, besides promoting the study of various new literatures in English/English translation from the Global South.
The Department is well aware of its situatedness in a historic region of Northern India. It, therefore, takes special care to promote the study of various literary cultures of the country, particularly Hindustani, by exploiting the possibilities of the English language in today’s globalized world. To this end, in ways that complement its curricular emphasis on traditions of Indian/South Asian literature, many of its research scholars work on multilingual vernacular Indian literatures in English translation from a comparative vantage point. The ongoing UGC SAP DRS Phase-II project on Translation Studies also attests to the above-mentioned fact, focusing as it does on the translation of rare texts of historical, literary and cultural significance from Aligarh and Uttar Pradesh.
In the field of English language skills, the Department provides instruction in various registers/codes of English (ESPs) and offers its ELT students hands-on training in teaching English. Through its extensive General English programme, the Department is also committed to providing advanced English skills to all the students of the University across Faculties and Departments of Studies, thereby practically making itself a home for almost the entire AMU fraternity. It is also at the forefront of furthering online education/e-learning by way of making education more accessible, holistic and dynamic for all. Remarkably, the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) courses offered by the Department’s faculty have always received an enthusiastic response. The Department’s general commitment to fostering critical thinking and communication skills, among other transferable life skills, in addition to the pursuit of the academic study of the English language and its diverse literary traditions the world over, goes a long way towards equipping its students for diverse career paths in the global job market.
The Department strives to nurture excellence in teaching and research in the field of English language and literary studies in particular and in the allied humanities disciplines in general with a view to making humanistic education speak to our times and climes.
The Department is committed to the pursuit of excellence in research, innovative pedagogy, and character building as a whole. In other words, it focuses on infusing a sense of social responsibility and community life among all its learners. The Department also works towards honing communicative-rhetorical skills, humanist aptitude, and cultural disposition through relevant interventions in English language and literature studies. The Department is of national and international repute for being a vibrant place of intellectual activity and hosts regular symposiums, research colloquiums, conferences, seminars and talks by academicians from all over the world. It places particular importance on enriching interdisciplinary and inter-institutional interactions and collaborations.