Do we understand English Literature?
Workshop on the “Cultural Context of English Literature”
At the workshop organized by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Humanities and Social Sciences (CIRHS), SDM P.G. College (Ujire), on the 4th and 5th of February, participants deliberated on the challenges faced by students and teachers of English literature in India. The objective of the workshop, entitled ‘Understanding the Cultural Context of English Literature’, was to highlight the various cognitive hurdles that hamper our ability to understand a literature that comes from a different cultural context. To understand (European) English literature, one must understand European culture. One will not understand European culture without understanding the role Christianity has played in this culture.
The workshop included sessions by Dr. Dunkin Jalki and Dr. Sufiya Pathan from CIRHS, Dr. Polly Hazarika, formerly Assistant Professor at SNDT University, Mumbai and, Ms. Anne Cardinael of the India Platform, from Belgium. Participants came from SDM P.G. College, SDM U.G. College, KSS College (Subramaniya), and individual research students from Nasik and Thrissur. Given that the focus was understanding the cultural context of (European) English literature, the workshop included a session on European classical music, which discussed and demonstrated the rich cultural context which we must understand, and within which our study of English literature must be based.
English literature is the most popular post-graduate discipline within the Humanities and Social Sciences in India (as per The All India Higher Education Institutions Final Report 2014-15). It is therefore even more important to focus on how this subject is taught and learnt in the Indian context. Dr. Jalki, Director of CIRHS stressed on the need for reflection: “If we ever hope that good research in the subject is to be contributed from India as well and not just from Europe, we will have to significantly re-think the way we study English Literature today.”
Garima Raghuvanshy, a student participant, said, “The workshop was very significant. The kinds of insights that were shared here need to be shared widely. It has given us, as students of English literature, a glimpse of a new way to think about our subject, and the possibility of exploring a different and exciting direction. I hope many more such workshops will be organised.”
In the months to come, CIRHS hopes to conduct more workshops on varied subjects, related not just to English literature, but also, for instance, on research methodology in the Social Sciences.
More photos from the workshop are on our facebook page!