The guiding assumption of the English department at Ashoka University is that we all like to travel. Even when we are beset by pandemics, dangerous beasts, and visa problems, we are committed to exploring new worlds. Some of these worlds might be troubling, others provoke new thoughts, while still others reflect old thoughts from a different perspective. Nothing launches these journeys better than literature. Whether it is by reading books written by unfamiliar authors or thinking through the intricacies of an idea, literature challenges our minds to expand, grow, and travel. All literature involves an imaginative movement outside the bounds of the familiar.
As people invested in questions of literature, we map such movements across cultures, languages and genres ranging from novels, poetry, and drama to film and theory. To this end, literatures in translation are a vital means to collapse artificial boundaries between texts, because, ultimately, all literature is translation. Hence, courses in the English Department are not defined by periods, genres or language, but by the rich questions and conversations that exist between texts. Students should feel equally comfortable on the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe as on the streets of Satyajit Ray’s Big City. They should hear the echoes between Virginia Woolf and Ismat Chughai, and see the ancient threads that run between Ovid’s Metamorphoses, A Thousand and One Nights, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. The juxtaposition of superficially disparate texts, opens up a productive space for dialogue not only within literary studies, but also across disciplines like history, sociology, politics, psychology, economics, and even the hard sciences. It is through this dialogic engagement with difference that critical thinking becomes both possible and powerful.
The Department of English offers students an intellectually engaging and adventurous space for study, research, and pedagogic exploration. Our aim is to be globally literate while also taking cognizance of our rootedness in India. The wide range of courses offered as part of the various English programmes at Ashoka prepare the graduates for a variety of careers in higher education, the law, advertising, and any field that requires an agile mind able to traverse across borders.