BA English Literature with Creative Writing / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Writing India in English, 1880 - 1964

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL31112
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by English and American Studies
Available as a free choice unit? No


This module explores the founding period of one of the world’s major literatures in English: writing about South Asia from the final decades of the nineteenth century to the period immediately after Indian Independence and Partition in 1947. As well as addressing such major and long popular writers as Rudyard Kipling (a selection of short stories including 'The Man who Would be King'), Rabindranath Tagore (The Home and the World), E.M. Forster (A Passage to India), Mulk Raj Anand and R.K. Narayan, the course participates in the recovery of writing by Indian women. (The consideration of women’s writing was largely absent from the foundational critical studies on Indian writing in English.) In addition to short stories and non-fiction by women, we explore Iqbalhunnisa Hussain’s novel Purdah and Polygamy: Life in an Indian Muslim Household from 1944. Themes explored on the module using relevant poscolonial theory include anti-colonial politics, nationalism, religion, gender, sexuality and caste. As well as fiction, the module addresses the film adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and the World by one of the major figures of world cinema, Satyajit Ray.



  • To introduce students to key texts, and the issues in those texts, from South Asia in the period from 1880 to 1964, and the death of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru
  • To introduce students to the analysis different genres including short stories, novels, non-fictional prose, and novels
  • To consider the formal and thematic innovations writers representing South Asia undertook as they adapted language, styles and genres from Europe, drawing on Indian cultural forms as they did so;
  • To analyse the ways in which the texts of British India and South Asia interact with their cultural and historical contexts;
  • To consider issues like anti-colonial politics, nationalism, religion, gender, sexuality and caste;
  • To deploy relevant postcolonial theory and contextual material, especially around decolonisation,  to the texts discussed;
  • To engage with selected critical writings on writing about South Asia from the period of the course;
  •  To develop skills of critical thought, speech, and writing






Knowledge and understanding


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a sound familiarity with a range of texts in English from South Asia in the period 1880-1964 and their contexts;
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of Empire, independence and nation building in this period;
  • Apply relevant postcolonial and decolonial theory to the texts about South Asia discussed;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of a number of key themes, such as religion, gender, sexuality and caste

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Think critically and make critical judgments about writing in English about South Asia from 1880-1964;
  •  Analyse the texts in an evaluative and knowledgeable manner;
  • Identify and outline key problems and issues in writing in English about South Asia from the period of the module;
  •  Develop and articulate a reasoned argument about themes in writing ;
  • Identify and evaluate critical arguments advanced in relevant secondary texts

Practical skills

  •  Plan and execute independent research on writing in English about South Asia from 1880-1964;
  •  Make good use of library, electronic, and online resources pertaining to the course;
  •  Speak and write clearly about the texts and issues arising from writing in English about South Asia from the period of the module

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Retrieve, sift, organise, synthesise and critically evaluate material from a range of different sources, including library, electronic, and online resources;
  • Produce written work that collects and integrates evidence to formulate/test a critical argument;
  • Make good use of word processing software and databases for secondary literature searches;
  • Demonstrate good communication and listening skills needed to consider complex and sensitive issues with others (here in extended seminar discussion);
  • Manage time effectively by scheduling tasks

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students taking this unit will be able to analyse and evaluate arguments and texts. Above all, committed students will emerge from this course unit with an advanced capacity to think critically, i.e. knowledgeably, rigorously, confidently and independently.
Project management
Students taking this unit will be able to work towards deadlines and to manage their time effectively.
Oral communication
Students taking this unit will be able to show fluency, clarity and persuasiveness in spoken communication.
Students on this unit will be required to digest, summarise and present large amounts of information. They are encouraged to enrich their responses and arguments with a wide range of further reading.
Written communication
Students on this unit will develop their ability to write in a way that is lucid, precise and compelling.

Assessment methods

Coursework essay 50%
Examination 50%

The use of dictionaries in the examination is prohibited. This rule applies to all categories of students, including all Visiting Students.

Feedback methods

Numerical grade, written comments on essay and overall comment within 15 working days.

Opportunities also available for oral feedback in office hours

Recommended reading

Optional initial reading:

Eunice De Souza and Lindsay Pereira, eds., Women's Voices: Selections from Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Indian Writing in English (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004)

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, A Concise History of Indian Literature in English (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Peter Morey, Fictions of India: Narrative and Power (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 1
Seminars 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 197

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Howard Booth Unit coordinator

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