A weekly interdisciplinary lecture and workshop series Bricolage, kick started at the Department of English, University of Hyderabad on February 3, 2020. The first lecture was delivered by Professor K. Narayana Chandran on the topic “what we do not talk about when we talk about English research”.
Professor K. Narayana Chandran is distinguished researcher, teacher and mentor whose research and professional career spans over a period of thirty-five years, and who has recently been ranked as the number one arts and humanities researcher in South Asia and ninth in the entire Asian region. Among his books are Why Stories? (2012) and a translation of Romeo and Juliet into Malayalam (2000).
In the lecture, Professor Chandran provided a brief overview of the institutional practices and protocols that have determined English research in India, the contemporary trends that mark the discipline, limitations and challenges that English research in India must address today. Where in pure and applied research in the field of science, researchers break ground, but is all too different when it comes to English research in India, said Prof Chandran.
He also highlighted the distinction between two broad types of English researches in India, namely, faculty and doctoral research. For his lecture, Professor Chandran pursued the topic of what remains unsaid in doctoral research in English in India.
He said, “Entangled perennially in terminological mix-ups, how do we begin to look at and make sense of what we call English? How foreign is English to us, and how foreign are we to English, and how much of what we understand to be English remains within our focus? How are we related to this strange sign without a signified?”
Talking about the general state of English departments across India, Prof Chandran said that the limitations of English Departments across the country, include, the dearth of funding that inevitably excludes us from participation in and contribution to global scholarship; the lack of national policies in English research that decide the parameters and scope of research, and aid consensus in what constitutes “English research” in India.
“There is a real problem of access to proper human resources (examiners, for instance) that can effectively guide and provide qualitative assistance to our work,” he added.
Professor Chandran’s concluding remarks emphasized the significance of coming to terms with the idea that writing, like learning to walk or ride a bicycle, is process that must be advanced at one’s own pace and allowed to bide time. Researchers cannot expect quick results in limited time without compromising their work. In this context, he also pointed out how training in academic writing largely involves teaching oneself to write and finding one’s way and voice in the process.
–Soumaya Sharma, Dept. of Communication, Jinan and Laboni, Dept. of English