Department of English

About the Department


The History

With the appointment of Dr. S.P. Appasamy and Dr. T. Prabhakar Reddy as Professor and Reader respectively, the Department of English at the University of Madras was established in 1969 with the mandate to conduct inter-collegiate weekly lectures on certain topics besides guiding research. Prior to this, the Master's course in English was offered from the Madras Christian College and Presidency College with Prof. S. Ramaswamy occupying the post of Chief Professor at Presidency College. In 1976, the Department of English, along with many Departments in the University was made into a full teaching Department. M.Phil, both full-time and part-time, as the first degree in research also instituted as per UGC's norms. While M.Phil offered every year, M.A.offered in alternate years. Dr C.T. Indra was appointed Lecturer in 1976 and Mr. A. Joseph, Reader in 1977. In 1978, Dr M.S. Nagarajan joined as Reader and Mr. A. Joseph went to the PG Centre at Trichy on mutual transfer. Mr. N. Eakambaram joined as Lecturer in the same year. During these early years, the Department envisioned quality teaching and research as its immediate goal. The Master's course (under semester system) and the M.Phil (under the annual pattern) attracted some of the most promising and talented students and scholars. During 1980-81, one whole batch of seniormost College professors, some of them Principals, undertook the M.Phil course under full-time. Annual pattern was restored in M.A in the mid-1980s and gradually when most of the College teachers came to acquire the M.Phil qualification, only full-time M.Phil continued to be offered. Between 1980 and 1995, nearly seventy percent of the doctoral dissertations produced from the Department were on American literature. It is about this time that Commonwealth Literature Studies also found favour with young researchers. With the appointment of Dr V. Saraswathi as Reader in 1985, English Language Teaching emerged as a popular field of research and offered diagnoses of what ailed English teaching in our schools and colleges. The horizon of thrust areas in Literary Studies expanded from mid-1990s to include New Historicism and Cultural Materialism, Translation, Postmodernism, Feminism, Deconstruction among literary theories at the M.Phil level. With the appointment of Dr.R.Azhagarasan as Lecturer in 2000 the Department started moving in the direction of Cultural Studies. Because of the new demands and challenges arising in the wake of the Choice Based Credit System in 1998 the Department could provide stimulating courses, innovative teaching and evaluation. In 2004, Dr D. Venkataramanan and Dr S. Armstrong joined the Department. Their induction helped to strengthen the profile and some of the Core and Elective Courses like Technical Writing, Postcolonial and Canadian Literature. Mrs. Angkayarkan Vinayaka Selvi and Supala Pandiarajan joined the Department in 2004 and 2005 respectively, strengthening the components of Feminism and Australian literature. The granting of autonomy to premier colleges from the 1980s considerably altered the structure and design of the curricula as well as academic obligations. Most of the established colleges were granted recognition to start post-graduate and M.Phil courses. However, the University Department continues its crusade in the direction of earnest teaching, solid and serious research.  

International Linkages

In the 1970s and 80s, scholars from overseas occasionally visited the Department under the aegis of the US Educational Foundation in India (USEFI) or the British Council and gave public lectures. However, mention may be made of long-term visits by the following American professors under the Fulbright programme.

  • Prof. Richard Fein (1971-72) from the State University of New York.
  • Prof. Reed Huntley (1974-76) from University of Ohio.
  • Prof. Catherine Healey (1986-87) from University of Pittsburg.
  • Prof. John Lawry (1977-78) from University of Purdue.
  • Prof. Malcolm Bosse (1978-80) from City College, New York.
  • Prof Maddison Morrison (1987-88) and (1995) from the University of Oklahoma.
  • Prof. Edward Howard (1990) from Cornell University.

They took an active role in teaching the American Literature course, sometimes even other literatures, guided M.Phil research, gave academic counselling to Ph.D scholars, both from the Department and from the affiliated Colleges. After more than a decade, the Department persuaded the Fulbright Foundation to renew the visiting lectureship and in 2003 Prof. Radhakrishnan from the University of Massachusetts came over to teach and offer research mentoring. He taught courses on Post-Colonial Theory and Diaspora East-West. These Fulbright professors brought in a refreshing sense of professionalism and interactive teaching. The British Council also brought English Language experts from UK to offer short orientation courses or conduct workshops through the 70s and 80s. It was in the mid-1990s that the scenario started changing in consonance with the paradigm shift the world over. A few overseas scholars/institutions evinced interest in collaborative research with the scholars in the Department. There was also a growing interest in inter-Departmental collaboration with foreign universities to promote research.  

Academic Collaboration / Memoranda of Understanding:

The Departments of English and Political Science took the initiative in 1999 to move MoUs with Universities in Australia and New Zealand such as University of Wollongong, Univesity of South Australia and University of Waikato. Collaborative research projects have been initiated under the broad rubric of Culture Studies and Post-colonialism. Modern India, its culture, its polity, governance, its civil societies and public policy have been the thrust areas now studied under such overseas collaborations. The English Department, having introduced a core course on Australian Studies succeeded in making the Australian Government sponsor an academic every year from 2000 to teach the course through the Australia-India Council. Writer in Residence Programme:

The Asia Link Unit of Australia - India Council has also supported the Writer in Residence programme under which leading Australian writers like Lee Cataldi (poet and linguist), Judith Rodriguez (poet), Inez Baranay (novelist), and Graeme Miles (poet) have spent time and conducted creative writing workshops. Currently Kristy Murray (novelist) is in residence since 2007. The Department is also included in the MOUs signed by the University of Madras with Francois-Rabelais University, Tours, Stendhal University, Grenoble in France for collaborative teaching and exchange in Post-Colonial Studies and Business English.  


There were two more factors, which strengthened the developing critical interests. The Hindu gave an endowment for instituting "India Studies" in 2003 in the Department in collaboration with the Department of Political Science and Public Administration to host overseas scholars and writers interested in specific areas of study relating to modern India - such as ethnic and caste studies, public policy, eco-feminism, intellectual property rights, women's writing etc. In fact, this has also enabled the Department to expand its activities and establish links with various types of organization. The other endowments in the Department are Prof.V.S.Seturaman Prize for I Rank in M.A.; Prof. M.S.Nagarajan Endowment on Literary Criticism. Dr C.T. Indra was also nominated Director of Centre for Canadian Studies in 2003. She expanded the scope of the programmes of the Centre for Canadian Studies of the University by building on the existing strengths and organized three consecutive national seminars and one International Seminar:

  • 2003 - Francophone and Immigrant Literature
  • 2004 - Round Table on Indian Dalit Theatre and the Canadian First Nations Theatre
  • 2005 - Conference on Technology and Higher Education: Perspectives on Canada-India.
  • 2006 - 22nd International Conference of the Indian Association for Canadian Studies on Traditions and Transformations India and Canada

Yet another area in which the Department has made rapid stride is Theatre and Performance. Under the revised scope of the Tagore Chair the University also included Theatre and Prof. P. Rajani was nominated first Tagore Chair for Theatre in 2000. Besides offering Theatre as an Elective course for all the Departments of the University at the Master's level, every year at least two major performances are staged either at the University or at public auditoria such as the Museum Theatre. In International Conferences plays have been staged sponsored by Australian and Canadian High Commissions and the USEFI Theatre has been used not as entertainment but as a medium of social and cultural critique. Gender and race relations are some of the thought-provoking contemporary issues unraveled by the performances.  

Equipment for Theatre and Performance Laboratory

Dr Beatrix D'Souza, distinguished alumna of the department and former Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), sanctioned a sum of Rs.10 lakhs under the MPLAD Fund to establish a Visual and Performance Laboratory in 2000. This funding considerably strengthened the infrastructure of the department. Besides facilitating near-professional staging of plays, the equipment has enabled the teachers and students to avail the benefits of modern technology in the classroom. The equipments are as follows: In recognition of the role played by Theatre, the University came forward to institute an Adjunct Faculty for Theatre from 2004 along the lines of Western Universities. Professor Rajani held that position for two years (2004-06). Now the University has elevated him to the position of Sesquicentenary Emeritus Professor  

Research Themes and Projects

The Department of English is actively pursuing over-arching area of Post-Colonial Studies with special reference to the Third and Fourth worlds. Under this umbrella a set of research themes and projects have been identified: Post-colonial Theories and their impacts on Literary Studies with the following foci: Contemporary Indian Literature: Translation and Canon Making and Literary Cultural Historiography. Dalit Studies and empowerment. Post Cold War Era and Dissident Writings. Ethnicity and Multiculturalism with the following foci: Theatre as Discourse on Gender. Australian Aboriginal Culture and Writings and Historiography. Canadian First Nations and Identity Politics. English in the Era of neo-Colonialism and Globalization. These areas have been identified based on the strength of Faculty, their research output, and the collective interest of the Department.  

Conferences / Seminars
  • IACLALS Annual Conference on Teaching Post-Colonial Texts: Theory and Strategy February 2005
  • Memorial Seminar on Ted Hughes: A Poet and Laureate December 1998
  • Toward a Critical Biography in India March 1998 under India Studies Programme funded by ICSSR.
  • ELTAI Annual Conference of the English Language Teachers' Association of India, March 1998
  • National Seminar on Post - colonial Discourse with Special focus on Australia February 1997.
  • Regional Conference on Criticism and Theory for all Government College Teachers sponsored by the Directorate of Collegiate Education, 1996
  • TELL Seminar on Teaching English Language and Literature was conducted in collaboration with British Council, Chennai, 1991.
  • 39th All India English Teachers' Conference, December 1990.
  • T.S. Eliot Centenary Seminar in collaboration with British Council, Chennai in 1987.
  • 29th All India English Teachers' Conference in 1977



Situating Literary Studies Within the Discourse of Development Studies in Jan.2007 Colonialism and Modernity Mediated through Theory (Funded partly by USEFI) Chief Resource Person: Dr Timothy Brennan from University of Minnesota, US, December 2003 First International Conference on Understanding Australia: Literature, Culture and Polity in collaboration with IASA Jan 2002 Black American History and Culture. Sponsored by US Consulate General's Office of Public Affairs. Chief Resource Person: Prof. Robert Hamburger from City University of New York, March 2002. Literature, Culture and Translation sponsored by the British Council, March 2001. Chief Resource Person: Prof. Susan Bassnett. Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Warwick University, U.K.  

  • Theatre Workshop. Chief Resource Person: Susan Lori-Parks (Pulitzer Prize winning Black Woman playwright). Sponsored by US Consulate General's Office of Public Affairs, March 2004.
  • Theatre Workshop. Chief Resource Person: Dr Pflanzer, Playwright and Adjunct Faculty, City College, New York. Sponsored by USEFI, February 2003.
  • KATHA organized a National workshop on Planning and Teaching a course in Translation Studies in 1997
  • National Seminar-cum-Workshop on Translation in collaboration with KATHA in December 1996
  • Seminar on Post -Modernism for P.G. Students, 1990.


Research Club

The Department has a Research Club which is open to scholars from the affiliated Colleges too. The Ph.D. scholars regularly meet and make periodic presentations of their research findings. The faculty also participate by critiquing the presentations. This is part of the mentoring programme the Department has envisaged to improve the quality of research. In the last four years an average of about 20 scholars would have participated in the discussions. 5 of them have received overseas fellowships.  


Theatre and Communication  


Equipment: Personal Computer, Printers, Xerox - cum- Printer machine, Video Camera, Video Mixture, Audio Mixture, Television, PA System With Microphones, DVD Player, Music System with CD and Cassette Player, Slide Projector, Set Lights with Dimmers, Scanner, Laptop Computer and DLP. LCD Projector, Air-Conditioners for maintenance of Performance Laboratory equipment.  

  • The Hindu Endowment on India Studies Programme
  • Prof. V.S. Seturaman Endowment for First Rank Holder in M.A.
  • Prof. M.S. Nagarajan Endowment on Literary Criticism


Partnership / Collaboration
  • University of Wollongong, Australia. (IREX) - Interdisciplinary with Political Science, Anthropology, and History (from 2004-2007)
  • University of Francois-Rabelais, Tours, France - Business English and Post- colonial Studies (from 2006- )
  • Stendhal Universite, Grenoble, France - Business English, Indian Literature. (from 2006- )
  • Sorbonne Nouvella University , Paris III, France - Post-colonial Studies at Doctoral Level( from 2004- 2006)
  • University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia, jointly with Political Science (from 2000-2005; renewed in 2006)


  • Departmental Library -2500
  • Departmental Collection
  • British Literature
  • American Literature
  • Literary Theory
  • Text Books
  • Australian Studies Resource Collection with AUSLIT Database subscribed to by Australia-India Council for the Sesquicentenary of the University of Madras Canadian Studies Collection supported by Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, Delhi
  • Back numbers of Journals subscribed to by the Main Library


Name of the Faculty Designation View Profiles
Dr. S. Armstrong Professor & Head Dr. S. Armstrong
Dr. R. Azhagarasan Professor Dr. R. Azhagarasan
Dr. D. Venkataramanan Associate Professor Dr. D. Venkataramanan
Dr. Supala pandiarajan Assistant Professor Dr. Supala pandiarajan

Courses offered by the Department

Post Graduate

  • M.A -English

M.Phil Courses

  • English

P.G. Diploma Courses

  • P.G.Diploma in English Skills and Knowledge Management
  • Technical Writing

Ph.D Programme

  • Ph.D. Program

Certificate Course

  • Need based Certificate Course in Communicative English for foreign students through COM

Syllabus for the Courses Offered

Syllabus will be available soon

Fees Structure

Fee Structure will be available soon


Timetable for All Courses Download
Timetable for All Courses Download

Research Scholars

Name Guide Topic Year Joined Year Completed Email Id
No M.Phil Scholars
Name Guide Topic Year Joined Year Completed Email Id
No Result available
Ph.D Nil
M.Phil Nil
Ph.D Nil
M.Phil Nil