Cultural Studies and the Reinvention of English Pedagogy in India


  • Meena Pillai


Cultural Studies in India, English pedagogy in India, Postcolonial pedagogies, Shakespeare in India, Comparative literature


The last two decades have witnessed a crisis in English departments in India. Globalization and the liberalization of the Indian economy spawned a new nationalism that was openly political and overtly critical of the ideological investments embedded in canonical English texts. A perceived need to reinvent English studies to suit the exigencies of a postcolonial milieu marked the shift into a mode of inquiry that ushered in a cultural studies turn to English literature.This paradigm shift in English pedagogy is most evident in the construction of M.A. and Ph.D. syllabi in various Indian universities. They have increasingly focused on issues of gender, class, and caste oppression, dismantled the cultural hegemony of British literature, and opened up the canon to include Indian and other non British texts. Through an analysis of postgraduate syllabi for English courses across the country, this paper will attempt to study the critical postcolonial pedagogies adopted by universities in India. These pedagogies foreground cultural studies as an interdisciplinary site for research into new areas of contemporary life, complicating the political assumptions of English studies but nevertheless remaining in dialogue with the parent discipline.

Author Biography

Meena Pillai

Meena Pillai is Director, School of English and Foreign Languages, Centre for Cultural Studies, and Associate Professor, Institute of English at the University of Kerala. A Fulbright Doctoral Fellow to the Ohio State University and Shastri Fellow to the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University she was also a Commonwealth Fellow at the Media Studies Centre, University of Sussex. Her publications include Women in Malayalam Cinema: Naturalising Gender Hierarchies (Ed. 2010) by Orient Blackswan and a chapter in the Handbook of Indian Cinemas by Routledge, London (2013). She is a recipient of the Meenakshi Mukherjee Memorial Award for the Best Academic Publication of IACLALS 2012. Her areas of interest include Cultural Studies, Gender and Cinema.