Literature | Humanities & Social Sciences


The Literature unit at HSS comprises seven members who, between them, have a wide range of interests. These converge around the broad areas of theatre, urban studies, narratology, postcoloniality, Indian literary and political thought, literary and critical theory. Much of the research undertaken is inter-disciplinary in scope, with several of the faculty members actively participating in other units such as Philosophy, Linguistics and Sociology. The unit teaches a wide array of courses on contemporary and modernist literature, Indian writing in English and in translation, drama, poetry and narrative art, among a number of others.

Literature Faculty

Assistant Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Associate Professor

Literature Courses

Course Number: HSL840 | Credits:
Course Objective:

This course will introduce students to advanced topics in Literature as decided by the instructor.

Course Number: HUL 354 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

The course begins by registering the increased presence of technology in contemporary art. We shall keep the experiences of both classical Greece and Classical India alive where art and technology were not clearly separated in the manner familiar to us. By positioning us between these two experiences - classical and contemporary we shall critically examine the complex relationship between art, science and technology which characterizes modernity. The course uses both materials from philosophical aesthetics, philosophy of science and technology. It also discusses the philosophical writings on specific areas like architecture, photography, cinema and digital art.

Course Number: HSL831 | Credits:
Course Objective:

Students would understand the emergence of the concept of the author and its linkages to the coming of print. Students should also be able to make a link between the concept of the author genius and the emergence of copyright laws.

Course Number: HSL572 | Credits:
Course Objective:

This course will enable students to learn the basics of programming that will enable them to work with text as data, grasp the basics of acquiring, manipulating, and analyzing data relevant for humanities inquiry.

Course Number: HSL677 | Credits:
Course Objective:

• Introduce and explore the history and debates on Comparative Literature as a critical field of research practice within Humanities for an interdisciplinary study of texts

• Survey and evaluate ideas and ideals, discursive practices, and the tools of comparative studies to understand cultural and literary expressions

• Comprehend and discuss: 1) the history of origins and discontents in Europe, 2) multiple sojourns in the Anglo-American academia, and 3) comparative and translating presence in multilingual cultures of India.

• Use critical tools that not only combine historical and thematic frameworks to study cultural expressions but also unravel the trajectory of comparative thought to discuss the compelling futures of research in languages

• Demonstrate familiarity to discuss and illustrate arguments, and establish a broader understanding and relationship of an up-to-date critical narrative on diverse topics such as “comparative, world, regional, and national” literatures, disciplinary origins and crisis, theory and practice, multilingualism, postcolonialism, vernaculars, and translations

• Provide a comprehensive and cutting-edge survey of comparative literatures practiced across the world as theory and practice with a particular focus on critical reading, writing and discussion in the South Asian region

Course Number: HSL732 | Credits:
Course Objective:

This course will engage the student in an in-depth study of one or more theoretical positions which are adopted in literary criticism – such as, structuralism, postructuralism and deconstruction, postmodernism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, gender studies, postcolonialism, culture studies.

Course Number: HUL 237 | Credits: 4
Course Objective:

To introduce students to fiction written after the modernist era. The course aims to acquaint students with representative contemporary fiction, offering a multi-cultural perspective by authors who come from different national, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. To look closely at themes which have emerged post the Cold War, emerging nationalisms and the search for individual/social values amid a sense of tremendous change and technological development.

Course Number: HSL656 | Credits:
Course Objective:

To introduce students to:
• Early formulations of the idea and concept of race
• Eugenics, biopower
• Science and race
• Different types of racism and race theories (based on biology, language, culture)
• Systemic/ structural racism - Slavery, Nazism, colonialism & segregation, Caste

Course Number: HSV731 | Credits:
Course Objective:

Will develop an ability to read and critically respond to a variety of verbal texts. It will train students to engage in a close readings of the various textual elements while also paying attention to contextual references. While it will be primarily concerned with literary texts, it will introduce tools of analysis for non-fictional writing and academic writing.

Course Number: HSL685 | Credits:
Course Objective:

· To familiarise students with various definitions of “culture” and the terms in contradistinction with which culture has been defined (nature, religion, race, civilization, history etc.);
· To introduce the concepts and methodologies in studying Culture and the plurality of cultures in terms of meaning making and cultural production;
· To study the processes of cultural formation and transformation and grasp their political and ideological dimension;
· To approach politics beyond the specific formalities of state power and approach it through the lens of everyday, material cultures

Course Number: HSV734 | Credits:
Course Objective:

This module will take students through the key theoretical formulations on the nature of language, signification and communication with a view to studying language in/of literature and other forms of cultural production. It will engage with the various dimensions of language including, language use in everyday life, language contact and change, speech registers, vernaculars, standardization, and the limit of language.

Course Number: HUL 307 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

To introduce students to the structural elements of Fantasy literature, including a broad knowledge of its history, source traditions, and enduring subgenres. Major Themes of Fantasy: Archetypes and Myths, Motifs - journeys, theology, devices and aides, creation of alternate worlds, treatment of time and space, close readings of individual texts

Course Number: HUL 334 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

The course will involve a detailed study of 3-4 texts and their corresponding adaptations into film. By means of close reading, analysis, and discussion, it will seek to identify the changes that take place during the process of adapting one art-form into another and ask why those modifications occur. An evaluation of what each art-form enables and what it restricts or denies will enable a better understanding of form per se, and of these two forms in particular. Further, the course will address the question of genre and its conventions especially with regard to film, and observe the extent to which generic expectations shape the process of adaptation of text into film. Film screenings will be held outside class hours in the evenings.

Course Number: HUL 338 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

Satire is a classical genre that has thrived over the centuries in almost all languages and cultures, and is found in a range of media. Life, in all aspects, everyday provides grist to the mill of satire, but does satire change anything? How do we define satire? Why is it considered the social genre? What are the contemporary forms of satire? Who can practice satire? It draws upon diverse techniques such as allegory, irony, caricature and laughter. Through analyses of examples, this course will familiarize students with satirical sub-genres and related literary practices, such as parody, burlesque, black humour, the grotesque, coarse humour, high and low comedy. It will examine the structure of satire, its relation with community, democracy and matters of gender, race, and religion.

Course Number: HUL 238 | Credits: 4
Course Objective:

The aim of this course will be to read the poems of Indian English Writers (pre and post-Independence), with specific reference to the articulation of their identity. Some of the perspectives from which the poems will be discussed include the notion of home (childhood, family and ancestors); land (history, geography, community, caste and contemporary politics); language (the dialogue between the different languages in the creative repertoire of the poets); and culture (ritual, traditions, legends and myths). The course will also look at the differences between the resident and expatriate poets vis-a-vis the conflicts and resolutions as expressed in their poems.

Course Number: HUL 239 | Credits: 4
Course Objective:

This course aims to introduce students to the growing body of prose in English that has been emerging from post-independence India, with particular focus on the novel. In addition to examining the question, a highly-vexed one, of the 'Indian-ness' of such writing in linguistic and stylistic terms, it will interrogate the patterns of production and consumption of Indian English novels set in place predominantly by global publishing networks.

Course Number: HUL 335 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

To introduce students to the various periods of development of Indian theatre and the different sources of influence. The course will pay close attention to the interaction between the traditional and the contemporary. Through a close study of the written and performance texts the students will explore the various styles of Indian theatre and its major concerns.

Course Number: HSL682 | Credits:
Course Objective:

• to introduce students to the founding/inaugural texts of modern and contemporary anti-caste thought in the sub-continent;
• to familiarise them with the antecedents, histories, and traditions of thinking, discourses and movements which interrogated and criticised the caste system and practices;
• to help students think critically about the various aspects of caste, including in historiography, sociology, literary studies, and philosophy, through the perspective of anti-caste thinkers and the emancipatory discourses and imaginations of the oppressed.

Course Number: HUL 236 | Credits: 4
Course Objective:

Brief history of the development and importance of drama in Western and Indian contexts. Readings from both ancient and contemporary drama theorists. Generic differences between different forms of drama such as tragedy, comedy, realist, 'folk', Absurd, etc. Detailed study of important examples of different forms of drama.

Course Number: HUL 231 | Credits:
Course Objective:

What is literature? This is the central question that the course will address through representational readings from different genres. The focus will be less on any given genre and more on how it becomes possible for the student to reconstruct something called ‘literature’ through the variety of genres to which he or she is exposed. The course does not presuppose any knowledge of literature though students will be expected to have a strong command of the English language. The actual texts chosen to illustrate the different forms of literature will not be restricted to any particular culture but will be open ended to include any text that will help the class to answer the question of what constitutes the essence of literary representation.

Course Number: HSL531 | Credits:
Course Objective:

To learn about the history of literary theory as an integral part of literary studies since ancient times; consider literary theory as an interdisciplinary field, not confined to the study of the literary canon but engaged with philosophy, and political thought, and history of ideas more generally; learn the different methods of textual analysis; understand the relation between text and context, and between literature and what is broadly called culture.

Course Number: HSL834 | Credits:
Course Objective:

This course takes as its point of departure the fact that the modern city constitutes a highly enabling locus for new kinds of aesthetic, particularly literary, activity. From the late-nineteeth century onwards, there has been a spurt of artistic and theoretical work crucially centred in the experience of the city - in the European cosmopolitan centres of the early twentieth century as much as the postcolonial mega-cities of today. This course aims to study why and how the engagement with the city necessitates new and experimental forms of writing.

Course Number: HUL 232 | Credits: 4
Course Objective:

Students would be introduced to the conditions, beginning in 19th century colonial rule in India, which led to the emergent Indian middle-class intelligentsia to experiment with European forms of literature but striving for an alternative expression. Indian languages became the medium through which writers sought to address issues of identity, tradition, modernity, gender, the rural and the urban, the private and the public. The course will study the various experiments in narration, language, characterization and style undertaken by authors to shape these themes.

Course Number: HSL835 | Credits:
Course Objective:

The main objective of this course is to bring into focus the history and relationship of urban theatre in India with the past and to examine it changing and contested relationship to modernity.
The course will examine the trends and developments in Post Independence urban theatre and also look closely at its political aspects that have questioned social and authoritarian structures through aesthetic form and content.
We will also try and locate modern Indian urban theatre within a comparative framework of post-colonial theatrical practices from different locations such as Africa, the Caribbean etc.

Course Number: HUL 331 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

The course will undertake a detailed study of some of the most iconic Modernist novels by writers such as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett. It will examine the radical new ways in which they grappled with language, turned towards interiority, and pushed, in the process, narrative art to its very limits. The discussion will highlight the experimental quality of Modernist literature, as well as situate it within the context of its emergence - the two world wars, the development of psychoanalysis, the growth of metropolitan cities, and scientific and technological advancements.

Course Number: HSV735 | Credits:
Course Objective:

To familiarize students with the fundamental features of Narrative and the basic concepts and methods of Narrative Inquiry which are indispensable in the study of literature and culture. The course will give students a brief introduction to the study of narrative, the diversity of narrative genres and media, and the analysis of narrative techniques.

Course Number: HSL836 | Credits:
Course Objective:

The course would introduce the student to the theories of performance and a selection of theatrical practices. Reading theatrical perspectives on the study of performances, alongside studying the development of theatre practices and the insights offered by various theatre practitioners would prepare the student for studying the performative.

Course Number: HSL551 | Credits:
Course Objective:

To introduce students to key concepts on which definitions of philosophy are constructed, such as “concept”, “idea”, “opinion”, “argument”, representation”, “reason”, “knowledge”, “judgement”, “critique”; to discuss different traditions and critiques of philosophical thinking;

Course Number: HSL634 | Credits:
Course Objective:

This course will introduce students to the role of theatre in mass politics in the 20th and the 21st centuries.

Course Number: HSL681 | Credits:
Course Objective:

· Understand the role of print as a phenomenon in human history – for reading, writing, and thinking
· Discuss how contemporary life, and our bodies and minds, are conditioned by print technologies – such as the Typewriter and the Computer, or the Book and the Press
· Demonstrate the knowledge of a broader understanding and relationship between (con)texts so as to critically analyze and apply them both in writing and verbal presentations
· Work on the relevant material, from both print and digital sources, and demonstrate the background knowledge to this expansive research field
· Work on a project on print culture and history

Course Number: HUL 235 | Credits: 4
Course Objective:

To introduce the history, contexts and development of the Novel, an important literary genre, which emerged in Europe from the late 17th century and travelled to other parts of the world.

Course Number: HUL 382 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

There is more to romanticism than Wordsworth‘s poetry, or even literature in general. Nor is it confined between 1780s and 1830s. Least is it a trend succeeded by Victorianism and realism, and assailed by modernism. Romanticism contends with the question of presentation – of representation of and to oneself. It therefore directly participates in the philosophical discussions of reason, sensibility, emotion, subjectivity, and most importantly the idea of human freedom. This course will familiarize students with romantic movements in arts, in theories of language and society, in post-Kantian philosophy, in attitudes tor religion. Romantics not only engaged in experimental social practices and literary collaborations, but also articulated their necessity for the first time. Can we say that romanticism is at an end? How does it contribute to both a nationalism rooted in folk tradition, and individualism expressed in the cult of the hero, the solitary intellectual? How does it both look back to medieval occult and forward to novelties of science? Why is romanticism fascinated with animals, monsters and machines alike?

Course Number: HUL 340 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

The course will introduce students to selected topics in Literature as decided by the instructor.

Course Number: HSL832 | Credits:
Course Objective:

The course will examine contemporary literary writing from a number of South Asian countries (in English or translation) in addition to India, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It will relate the predominant thematic and narrative concerns of these writings to the embattled political, economic, cultural and national terrains they emerge from - sites of a colonized past and, more recently, of determined but grossly uneven ‘development’ - and analyze the ways in which these writings mould and re-shape conventional literary forms and genres in the process.

Course Number: HSL631 | Credits:
Course Objective:

To introduce students to some of the major works of a single author and to discussions elicited by these works. The course will train students to gain a thorough understanding of the trajectory of the given author, the intellectual context of their writing, and to be conversant with debates and questions surrounding their work. The author could be a novelist, poet, philosopher, or literary theorist.

Course Number: HSL733 | Credits:
Course Objective:

The objective of the module is to provide an in-depth study of one writer/theorist or thinker. The course will focus on the works or even one text of the selected writer and attempt to understand the trajectory of his/her thought in detail.

Course Number: HSL833 | Credits:
Course Objective:

This course will cover the idea of the Renaissance in England also known as the early Modern period and focus on concepts of identity and self as became evident in the literary texts of this era. It will relate the work of art to Renaissance history and cultural politics.

Course Number: HSL633 | Credits:
Course Objective:

· To understand the genres of poetry in relation to time, through special focus on the lyric in its historical background
· To study the redeployment of the lyric and other forms in relation to “modernity”
· To explore “modernity” as an attitude rather than chronological term through poetic self-styling and poetic interrogation of one’s time

Course Number: HSL632 | Credits:
Course Objective:

· To trace the origins of the novel in Europe as well as its world variants in different regions.
· To reflect on the historical transition over the last century through a novelistic lens.
· To discern the marks, in the world novel, of the experience of the devastation of indigeneity, and displacement.

Course Number: HUL 333 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

To introduce students to the history, development and philosophy of the Theatre of the Absurd, which emerged as an important literary and philosophical movement in post World War II Europe. Socio-political background of the theatre of the Absurd, its basis in Existentialist philosophy. The reactions against the conventions of realist theater that dominated this theatre. The pre-occupations of major playwrights with issues of language and the difficulty of communication, the isolation that human beings tend to feel from each other and themes of violence.

Course Number: HSL734 | Credits:
Course Objective:

This course will provide students an opportunity to study in detail the themes that have been prominent in modern Indian thought across a range of genres and media. Texts chosen might be speeches, letters, manifestoes, essays, novels, short stories, poetry, film, drama etc. Our aim will be to understand the force, significance and complexity of the concepts and themes that have shaped modern India.

Course Number: HSL731 | Credits:
Course Objective:

This course will focus on the nature of textuality, examining its different definitions, for example, in terms of texture, materiality, siginification and meaning, the contrast with orality, body and performance. How do these definitions impact the ways in which we study literary, artistic, cultural, and digital phenomena? How are texts constituted, delimited and interpreted?

Course Number: HUL 336 | Credits: 3
Course Objective:

The course will begin by seeking to distinguish the notion of 'creative' writing. It will contrast this heterogeneous category with other kinds of writing such as the 'functional' writing found in text-books and reportage. Through an analysis of various techniques of writing - in master-texts as well as students' own productions - the course will explore why and how literary texts continue to be a prime source of emotional and intellectual stimulation across cultures. As far as possible, the course will focus on contemporary writing, given that writers write in the 'here and now' even as they imagine the future or return to past memories. Selected readings will be used to focus students' attention on that most difficult of problems: to acquire a style of writing that makes a writer's 'voice' both unique and universal. Finally, students will be required to write in some genre(s) of their choice. These genres will include the classic areas of poetry, fiction and play-writing but will neither exclude non-fiction genres like the essay and biography nor forms of writing thrown up by the 'new media' such as blogs, photo-essays and narrative-writing for story-boards and video-games.