Welcome to the Department of English Language and Literature's website.
We're one of the oldest departments in the university, and have had students studying here since 1929. In that time we've changed from a department in a colonial university, to one with students involved in anti-colonial struggles, to an independent department in a newly independent nation, and finally, to what we are today.
The department is rather peculiar in that it houses three undergraduate majors and three graduate programmes all under the same roof. We teach and study English language and linguistics, English literature and Theatre Studies. Although there is a lot of collegial and student interaction between the three parts, as well as some teaching and research collaboration, each of the three sections has its own character, and its own distinctive strengths. I might add, though, that all three programmes include in their numbers some of the best teachers in the university.
The English Language programme engages in the formal study of the structures of language and the qualitative study of language in its social context. Our students gain familiarity with the questions and methodologies of both areas, learning about language, the most distinctive of human activities, and about how to understand it. We have research strengths in both kinds of study. Alongside work on philology and syntax, we have people studying language and gender, language policy, language acquisition and English in non- English speaking countries. Our main strengths are language contact and English in Southeast Asia.
The literature programme is, like the discipline itself, somewhat different from the language programme. We cannot say that all our students must know certain areas of the discipline. Instead, we offer a range of coverage and approaches, and emphasise the kinds of capacities our students develop rather than the knowledge they must possess. These capacities include a rigorous sensitivity to language, the ability to interpret with special penetration and the skills of argument and writing. Like our syllabus, our research is quite varied, with people working on postcolonial literature, literary history, theory and film. Although members of the department have published on canonical British authors like Milton and Shakespeare, our strength is in postcolonial literature.
Theatre Studies is our youngest programme, still in its early twenties. As might be expected (or hoped) it has grown in that time from a relatively immature programme, boldly conceived and launched by its early members, to something more sophisticated. The emphasis now is on different aspects of performance, with our students learning about everything from theatrical productions to film to social performances. We have a small but lively and productive graduate programme, and researchers working on performance, contemporary drama of different kinds and archiving.
I hope you can spend a little time learning about us from this website, and that if you have any questions you will write and ask them.