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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Emergence of English literature in Higher Education

Lecture notes of Ashif Ali of PSEng on 11 June 2009.


In the discourse of social sciences Literature is one of the youngest disciplines. Contrary to the ubiquitous presence of Literature now a days, there was serene bemusement when English literature was first introduced in universities like Oxford and Cambridge. In 1830s Harvard was the first institution offering English literature as a subject which was then followed by India. The emergence of English studies is largely indebted to:

i) Imperilism

ii) War/military purpose

iii) Nationalism

After 1857 sepoy mutiny, the central power of controlling India shifted from East India Company to the Crown in London. The emergence of English studies in India was in a way a by-product of Imperialism. “Colonialism entered India from the three coastlines of the country” where in English literature was first introduced in ‘Bombay’ ‘Madras’ and ‘Calcutta’. English studies in cartographic sense served as an “ambassador of colonialism” acting as a tool to “colonize the uncolonized mind.” The construction of superior image of the English and their cultured way of life was pedantic through the study of English Literature. The education structure was such that writings critiquing the English social structure (Shakespeare’s Comedies) were never introduced. Censorship was brought into the picture in order to envelope the image of the colonizers. Madras was the first place in India where censorship was spawned. Thus it was through imperilism that emergence of English studies can be traced.

Pinto, Anil.Class Lecture. 'Emergence of Literature as a Discipline'. Christ University,Bangalore,India. 11 Jun 2009

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