The Department of English was founded in 1948. The present faculty strength is
14. We teach B A (Honours) English and BA Programme with English as a
Language and as a Discipline Subject in combination with other subjects. In
addition, we teach various literature and language-based elective courses to all
students across streams. We also tutor students pursuing their MA English at the
Faculty of Arts, DU.
Teaching and Learning
- Interdisciplinary Expertise: The strength of our teaching lies in our diverse
academic specializations which covers canonical areas of literary studies:
European and Indian Classical Literatures, British Poetry, Drama and Novel,
Modern European, American and Indian Literatures, and so on. We also
specialize in contemporary areas, such as Children’s Periodicals in Bengali,
Children’s Picture Books, Crime Fiction in Bengali, Dalit literatures, Digital
Humanities, Indo-Jewish Writings, Partition Narratives, Popular Malayalam
and Hindi Cinema, Oral Tradition and Print Culture of the Rongmei, Urdu
Genre Fiction, and so on.
- Multi-lingual Faculty Members of the department know several languages
such as Bengali, Bhojpuri, French, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Rongmei,
Spanish, Telugu, Tamil, and Urdu.
- Pioneer in Critical Studies: In the 1980s, the first discussions on critical
theory in Delhi University were initiated by this department and regular
weekly seminars were held on deconstruction, English studies in India,
feminism, materialism, postcolonialism, structuralism, etc. Over the years,
the department has provided the space for interrogating dominant
discourses and today, Dalit studies and queer studies form a crucial part of
our teaching-learning praxis.
- The department has for long been known for its committed and innovative
teaching and for infusing students with sensitivity to curricular texts as well
as with the need to connect these texts to the world outside the classroom.
As such, our classroom- based teaching encourages students not only to
read, write and explore the practice and criticism of literature from across
the globe, but also to question inequalities in the material practices in the
world they inhabit.
- The department regularly invites scholars to address students via lectures,
seminars, and interactive sessions and several well-known academicians
such as Achin Vinayak, Dilip Simeon, Ira Bhaskar, James Laine, Kumkum
Sangari, Keval Arora, Nigel Leask, Suvir Kaul, etc have given lectures.
- Since 1986, the department has held public lectures in memory of V.
Krishna, the first teacher of this department. The V. Krishna Memorial
Event has organized talks by well-known scholars, such as Aijaz Ahmed,
Gayatri Chakrabarty Spivak, Mahasweta Devi, Marilyn Butler, Ngugi wa
Thiong’o, Romila Thapar, Robert P Goldman, Ruth Vanita, Sally Sutherland,
Sudipta Kaviraj, Sumit Sarkar, to name a few.
- The department library is reputed to be one of the best in the University
and it has a rich stock of books selected with a great deal of care, over
decades, by the faculty, in order to make available a wide range of critical
readings to our students.
- The English Literary Society hosts several interdisciplinary talks, events,
lectures, film screenings and workshops through the year that exposes
students to a vast range of subject experts drawn from a wide swathe of
professions and field of interests – creative writers, artists, film makers,
journalists, performers, activists etc—areas which help develop critical
thinking and professional opportunities.
- Each year a two-day Annual Festival of the Literary Society is held which
comprises lectures and various events including the popular Kahwa Stop
with participants from diverse colleges. The Society takes pride in the
leadership and sense of ownership displayed by its student members in its
activities and cherishes the celebration of plural voices that are generated
in the process.
Our students continue to excel in their academic performance across college and
the University. Many of our students secure University ranks at the
Undergraduate or Postgraduate level. Our results for the year 2018 are as follows:
Our faculty members are passionate teachers and committed academics who
engage continually with texts, their histories and politics in classroom lectures as
well as through interdisciplinary projects, seminar presentations and writings in
reputed journals, books and monographs.
- Members of the department have been part of collective efforts to revise
and intervene in the syllabi formation in order to make it representative of
non-canonical and diverse literatures.
- Our teachers regularly present papers in national and international
conferences, and several have won prestigious grants and fellowships.
Many have also published papers and books or been part of editorial teams
for curricular anthologies. Senganglu Thaimei’s, “Latchap of the Rongmei
Nagas: A Traditional Category of Wise Sayings’ in Folklore and Folkloristics
11.2: 14-22 (2018), Saswati Sengupta’s contribution to Goddesses: The
Oxford History of Hinduism (OUP: Oxford, 2018). Shampa Roy’s Gender and
Criminality in Bangla Crime Narratives: Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth
Centuries (Palgrave Macmillan: UK, 2017); Jenny Rowena’s Themmadikalum
Thamburakanmaarum: Malayala Cinemayum Aanathangalm (Subject and
Language Press, Kottayam, 2011), Indira Prasad’s co-edited anthologies,
Living Literatures (Orient Blackswan, 2007), The Individual and Society
(Pearson, 2006), and Saswati Sengupta and Sharmila Purkayastha [with
Zakia Pathak]’s “Prisonhouse of Orientalism” in Edward Said, Sage Masters
of Modern Social Thought (Sage UK, 2000), are but few examples.
- Faculty members are involved in archiving and contributing to online
repositories and Devjani Ray’s work on Bengali Children’s Literature will
soon be available in Sahapedia, an online repository of arts, cultures, and
heritage of India. Beyond academic publications, members engage on
topical issues through articles for newspapers, popular journals, digital fora,
and through public talks, seminars, workshops, and webinars.
- Faculty members are actively associated with the Film Club, Celluloid.
Saswati Sengupta and Shampa Roy were its founding members and the
Club premiered alumnus Shonali Bose’s Amu (2005) with Miranda House’s
well-known historian cum teacher, Uma Chakravarti, as the discussant.
Alumnus Mira Nair addressed students and answered questions about her
films and film-making. For the last few years, faculty members-- Gorvika
Rao, Anshu Kujur and Shweta Sachdeva Jha have helmed Celluloid. 2019
was particularly memorable for the Society as many students associated
with it won an impressive number of prizes for short film-making.
- Students and teachers have traditionally also been involved with the
staging of plays and have acted in as well as directed plays that have gone
on to win several prizes and accolades. Faculty members, Deepika Tandon
and Parul Bhardwaj, as conveners of the Dramatics Society, Ariels, have
helped in the staging of plays, organizing theatre workshops and interactive
sessions with theatre persons. Teachers have scripted plays as well.
- The department has had a tradition of exploring themes and subjects
collectively and over the years several books have emerged from such
endeavours and collaborations. The latest in this kind of collective work is a
volume of essays on the “Bad” Women of Bombay Films (co-edited by three
members of the department), to which ten ex-students of the department
along with teachers and academics have contributed their writings.
In 2015-16, Shweta Sachdeva Jha was the Principal Investigator for an
interdisciplinary Innovation project, under the Delhi University Innovations
Grant, in collaboration with the Department of Elementary Education. A
children’s book titled Chhutki and Cheero (authored by our alumnus,
Manjari Singh) emerged out of this collaborative project.
Teachers of this department, however, are not just writers of academic
papers and volumes. Members of our faculty have also written poetry and
fictions (or translated them) that have been widely read and appreciated.
Some of these have also been nominated for or have won extremely
prestigious awards. Retired members of the Dept., Malathi Rao, Manju
Kapur and Ira Singh have published fictions and Late Masooma Ali has
translated novels from Hindi to English. Of our present faculty, Saswati
Sengupta has published The Song Seekers (Zubaan Books and Chicago
University Press, 2011, nominated for the DSC Prize for South Asian
Literature, 2013) and Meera Sagar’s poems have been published in journals
like the Four Quarters and Best Indian Poetry, and her translation of
Stephenie Benson’s French shorty story was awarded the 1 st prize by
Alliance Française de Delhi (2004).
Our faculty members have been awarded prizes, fellowships and grants for
teaching and research. Saswati Sengupta (2004), Shampa Roy (2000, 2008)
and Devjani Ray (2015) were awarded the Charles Wallace India Trust
(CWIT) for short term research. Saswati Sengupta was felicitated as
Distinguished Teacher by the University of Delhi in 2009. Shweta Sachdeva
Jha was awarded the Max Planck Fellowship to work with the Centre for
History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development,
Berlin (2010); Sharmila Purkayastha was awarded the Nehru Fulbright
Postdoctoral Fellowship (2016-17); Shampa Roy won the Charles Wallace
India Trust Fellowship in Literary Translation (2019); Gorvika Rao received
grants from Wikipedia (2019) and Equality Labs (2019) for researching
women’s history month and Dalit history month; and Shweta Sachdeva Jha
was awarded the Amba Wadia Fellowship (2019-20) established by the
SNDT University for creating a photographic archive of Miranda House.
Several well-known personalities have graduated from this department, beginning with Jasleen Dhamija who joined in 1949 and wrote these lines about her college times:
“In 1949 I joined Miranda House, the new college on the Delhi University campus. We were the hip girl students….Delhi University was a hotbed of student politics, romance, scandal and intrigue. It was here that we acquired our skills for the big world. It was while looking after the leftist relief committee for students that I honed my organisational skills and later, as president of Miranda House, helped organise events.” The Seminar (2002). Jasleen Dhamija is arguably the best-known textile art historian and she has done pioneering research in the arena of handloom and handicrafts.
Compare Jasleen’s memories with what Ankita Anand has to say about joining the Department in early 2000s: “In my first few months in college, when someone asked me if I felt homesick, I realised I never got the time to. It was also my first time in a women’s only institution. But, if anything, I only felt more comfortable and confident here…..before college, we women were aware of gender discrimination. But our teachers gave us the tools to articulate that injustice, and the confidence to fight it.” Daily O, (October 28, 2018). Ankita also was the College President and she’s a well-known journalist who won the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize in 2015.
After securing the 22nd rank in the prestigious all-India UPSC examination in 2019, Deeksha Jain said: “My alma mater has the best of faculty, great infrastructure and students…I did BA (Hons) in English and MA (English) from Miranda House. Whatever I am today is because of the five years spent in this college.” The Fact Express (April 10, 2019).
For over 70 years, our students have learnt to build their understanding of the world outside through classroom interactions, extracurricular activities, and participation in academic, cultural, and other activities outside the college. When they go out of college after completing their graduation and/or postgraduation, our students are strong and confident.
Apart from our everyday warriors, the department has a long list of illustrious alumni which includes a number of academics locally and globally, innumerable well-placed professional in diverse fields and firms, and names such as, Anita Desai (Novelist), Anita Kaul Basu (Director, Synergy Communications), Anjolie Ela Menon (Artist), Anna Sujatha Mathai (poet), Jalabala Vaidya (actress), Kirti Singh (Lawyer), Mouni Roy (actor), Nupur Basu (journalist-film maker), Primla Lewis (writer-activist), Reena Mohan (documentary film maker), Ritu Menon (Publisher, founder: Women Unlimited), Radhika Roy (co-founder NDTV), Sayeeda Hameed (writer-activist), Uma Vasudev (critic-artist), Urvashi Butalia (publisher, founder: Zubaan) etc.
‘Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.’ –W.B. Yeats. We believe in this maxim and one of our alumna, Vandana Khare, has made an endowment in honour of her teacher, the Late Zakia Pathak and each year one student is selected on the basis of merit and financial need and awarded the Zakia Pathak Award. Details of the same are available in the college prospectus.