The guiding assumption of the English department at Ashoka University is that we all like to travel. Even when we are beset by bad weather, dangerous beasts, and visa problems, we like to travel and see new worlds. Some of these worlds might be frightening; many might involve thinking thoughts that we never have before; a few will allow us to recognise ideas that we have had all our lives. Nothing facilitates 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, genres—theory, fiction, poetry, drama, film—and languages. Literatures in translation will be a vital component of our curriculum as we seek to put in conversation texts that have been divided by boundaries of various kinds.
English at Ashoka takes seriously knowledge of both canonical Western texts like Ovid's Metamorphoses, Shakespeare’s plays, and Woolf's novels, Indian texts like Ismat Chughtai’s short stories, Amruta Patil's graphic novels, and Satyajit Ray's films, as well as world classics like A Thousand and One Nights, Greek tragedies, and Audre Lorde's poetry. The department puts disciplines in dynamic dialogue with each other, ensuring both specific knowledge and a more general ability to think.
English at Ashoka includes studying traditional courses like "Forms of Literature" in tandem with cutting-edge courses on "Digital Humanities" for a wide exposure to different genres. We also have an emphasis on Postcolonial Literatures as well as on Global Literatures in Translation. With every such grouping, we have multiple course offerings from among which students can choose. 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 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.