Comparative Perspectives

Veena Kapur

By Suman Gupta
Routledge, London, Year 2017, pp.230, $122.00


The book under review examines the status of English Studies in India, as well as the aspirations pinned on it by students, teachers, policy makers and society. It is an invaluable resource book for academic readers who are interested in English Studies as a discipline at the higher education level. In this context, English Studies consists of the study of English literature, language, linguistics as well as cultural studies. Reconsidering English Studies in Indian higher Education is the result of a collaborative research project which was conducted in the period 2012–2014, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK. The authors have tried to point out and bring to the foreground the crises in the discipline with effects on both pedagogy and scholarship. The book offers an account of the past and current condition of the discipline while speculating about its future prospects. These are explored in four parts of the book entitled: Background; Professional Concerns; Students; Comparative Perspectives. The most significant contributions to the book come from all participants of the two workshops, the teachers in various Delhi based institutions who administered the survey questionnaire, and the students who responded to it. The first part consists of two chapters ‘Historicizing English Studies in India’ and ‘Higher Education Policy and English Studies in India’. The first examines historicist accounts of the discipline from 1970s to 2010. Most importantly, space is devoted to clarifying crises debates that were concerned with English in the 1990s. The accounts and debates examined here set the stage for discussing the Education policy moves of chapter 2. The focus is primarily on national level policy making with a few noteworthy regional and institutional specific illustrations. This is followed by an analysis of current policies for English studies and prospects for its future. Various Education commissions have given recommendations regarding reinventing the role and curriculum of English Studies in higher education. But unfortunately they remain just that, recommendations. However, an analysis of the recommendations made by the Curriculum Development Committee for English Studies to the University Grants Commission (2001) is noteworthy as it is the last policy document specifically addressed to the University level for the discipline. It significantly assesses the status of the discipline before and after the release of the document. The second part explores English Studies in the context of: Curriculum; Pedagogy; Research; Employment; Relation to Indian vernaculars; Translation Studies; Relation between literary study and linguistics and ...

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