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English and Creative Writing Programme

The B.A. in English and Creative Writing combines scholarly training in literature with exposure to the practice of writing in the various literary genres – poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. It seeks to produce a rich and full literary experience where critical thinking and creative writing complement each other. Students in this major will emerge as writers and thinkers through an intellectual approach to literary texts and traditions from various historical periods and global spaces alongside rigorous practice in writing in one or more literary genre of one’s choosing. Coursework will constitute of English courses focusing on literary history and theory, forms of literature, a selection of literature electives; as well as a multi-genre introductory course in creative writing, courses on the craft of writing, and genre-specific workshops where a community of student-writers come together to read and respond to each other’s work. The B.A. in English and Creative Writing also entails writing a thesis in the genre of one’s choice – poetry, fiction, or non-fiction with a brief critical introduction.

Curriculum Structure and Credit Requirements

The programme requires the successful completion of 11 English courses and 5 Creative Writing Courses; a total of 64 credits:

 

Eleven English courses:

 

  • Forms of Literature

  • Introduction to Literary Theory

  • Early British Literature

  • Literature in the Age of Empire

  • Postcolonial Literature

  • English Elective

  • English Elective

  • English Elective

  • English Elective

  • English Elective

  • English Elective

Five Creative Writing courses:

 

  • Introduction to Creative Writing (multi-genre)

  • The Craft of Writing (Reading, prompt-based writing exercises, beginning workshop)

  • Single-genre workshop (offered in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction)

  • Single-genre workshop

  • Thesis hours

The BA in English and Creative Writing also requires a thesis. The thesis is a culmination of the student’s work at Ashoka University.  It can be in any one or more genre: poetry, fiction, or nonfiction in short or long-form. The thesis will be made up of work that has been revised over three years, and is of publishable quality. The minimum length for a prose thesis is 25000 - 30,000 words and for poetry it is 10,000 words (10 - 15 poems). The thesis should follow a 3000-word critical introduction.

Description of individual courses:
English

 

In addition to the courses and descriptions listed below, the English department will also offer seminars in subjects like Travel Writing, Women’s Writing, Studies in Sexuality, Renaissance Drama and British Modernism.

 

Introduction to English: Forms of Literature

 

This course will introduce English majors to the most important genres in English literature. These will range from the classical genres of poetry, prose and drama to the more recent developments in literary theory and new media. Students will receive an overview of the most important developments in genre over the last 2000 years, starting with Aristotle and culminating in hypertext.

 

Introduction to Literary Theory


An intensive immersion in literary method, this course will complement the class on literary genre. Looking at how texts ask questions, and the assumptions that go into any discussion of life and literature, we will also examine what the most important of these questions have been over the last hundred years, and how theorists like Freud, Derrida, and Spivak, among others, have addressed them.

 

Early British Literature: 900-1660


Plotting the development of the literature of the British Isles over the centuries, this course will begin with the anonymous text of Beowulf. Moving across important texts and movements through medieval and Renaissance literature to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, this course will immerse students in the early history of British literature.

 

Literature and Empire: 1660-1947

 

Starting with the consolidation of the East India Company in the 17th century, this course will examine the wide variety of pamphlets, travel narratives, poems, novels, and prose fictions that pivot on the idea of empire and travel, from Aphra Behn’s Oronooko to E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India. Moving across countries and centuries, this course will study literary and social formations that continue to affect us to this day.

 

Postcolonial Literatures

 

Expanding the canvas of literature to post-colonial productions of novels, poems and drama, this course will study Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone literatures from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. From magical realism to existential drama, students will cover rich traditions of literature have been written in response to the conditions of colonialism and post-colonialism.

English Electives

 

American Literature

 

From the beginnings of American literature in slave narratives and religious sermons to the current work of poets like Robert Lowell and graphic novelists like Alison Bechdel, this course will give students an overview of various modes and genres that have been explored in North America and Canada from the middle of the 18th century to the present.

 

The Novel

 

Perhaps the single-biggest literary development of the last 300 years has been the rise of the novel. Tied to the rise of literacy, industrialisation and globalisation, the novel is a polysemous genre that continues to be the most widely-read form of literature today. This course will look at the rise of the novel, its development through realism, modernism, post-modernism, magical realism and the postcolonial novel.

 

Indian Literatures in English

 

Starting in the 1980s with Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Indian literature in English burst upon the global scene. But Indian literature had already been popular in the earlier parts of the century, from Rabindranath Tagore and Mulk Raj Anand to R.K. Narayan. This course will trace the link from Tagore to Rushdie, A. K. Ramanujam to Nissim Ezekiel and Arun Kolatkar to Arundhati Roy to build a genealogy of Indian literatures in English.

 

Indian Vernacular Literatures

 

A rich tradition of Indian vernacular literatures is now available in English and allows us to compare Indian literature in English with demotic traditions. From the short stories of Munshi Premchand and Saadat Hasan Manto to the writings of Amrita Pritam and Vijaydan Detha, this course will round-out a student’s immersion in Indian literature.

 

Global Literatures in Translation

 

From Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past to Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, global literatures of pivotal importance to an understanding of literature have been translated into English. This course will think about the theory and practice of translation as well as study a selection of translated texts from around the world.

 

Global Cinema

 

With the spectacular growth of national cinemas in all parts of the world – India, Iran, Egypt, Germany, France, New Zealand – global cinema has become a major source for the dissemination of imaginative ideas in different languages. This course will study comparative traditions of film-making and think about the socio-cultural and filmic languages encoded in these productions.

 

Advanced Critical Theory

 

In many ways the capstone course of the English major, advanced critical theory will focus on any one aspect of theory as it has developed over the last 100 years. Topics may include New Media Theory, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, Deconstruction, New Historicism and Queer Theory.

 

From Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past to Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, global literatures of pivotal importance to an understanding of literature have been translated into English. This course will think about the theory and practice of translation as well as study a selection of translated texts from around the world.

Creative Writing

Introduction to Creative Writing (1 course/4 credits, offered in the Spring):

 

 In this course, students will experiment with two creative genres—poetry and fiction—as a means of developing different imaginative approaches to experience. The emphasis will be on generating a lot of raw material, and advancing a chunk of this work toward completion. Each craft lecture will be tied to a set of readings that will be discussed in class. At the end of the course, students will learn how to look at literature from the point of view of a practitioner and apply writing techniques to a variety of rhetorical situations. Anyone who wants to earn this minor or take creative writing courses, must successfully complete this course. There are no prerequisites for this course.

 

The Craft of Writing (1 course/4 credits, offered in the Monsoon):

 

This course will introduce students to specific genres of writing: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Exercises in the technique of writing, such as rhythm, metre, point of view, voice, narrative, pacing, will be combined with discussion of student writing and texts selected by the instructor. Students who have taken “Introduction to Creative Writing” can take this course.

 

Creative Writing Workshop (3 courses/12 credits, offered Monsoon and Spring):

 

This workshop is like a laboratory for working writers. The focus of course will be on generating and polishing new work. We will write in each class, share new work with peers and help each other to develop early drafts with honest, critical feedback. Students should complete “Introduction to Creative Writing” before enrolling in this course.

 

Thesis, 4 credits:

 

The thesis is a culmination of the student’s work at Ashoka University.  It can be in any one or more genre: poetry, fiction, or nonfiction in short or long-form. The thesis will be made up of work that has been revised over three years, and is of publishable quality. The minimum length for a prose thesis is 25000 - 30,000 words and for poetry it is 10,000 words (10 - 15 poems).

English and Creative Writing