Department of English
Down memory lane
Nestling close to lush bougainvillea sprays that are a delight to the eye, the Department of English has a beautiful setting, with the inner and outer walls of its classrooms displaying portraits of the greats of English literature—Shakespeare, Milton and George Bernard Shaw et al. The Dept. breathes an ambience of homeliness and warmth its students feel on their pulses the moment they set foot on its precincts.
The Dept. of English was born one of the firstlings of the College in 1960. Legend has it that from the beginning, the Dept. was the blue-eyed boy of Swami Lokeswarananda who had himself studied Honours in English in his student days. He saw to it that the Dept. had teachers of proven excellence on its teaching staff. Incredible as it might sound, he could persuade even Dr. Subodh Chandra Sengupta, a Shakespeare scholar of international stature, to teach in the Dept. for a few months. During its early years, thanks wholly to Swami Lokeswaranandaji’s dynamic initiative, the Dept. faculty was an impressive array of scholarly and dedicated teachers. In the early 1960s, between 1960 and 1964 to be precise, Dr. Satyendranath Roy ( D. Phil. Oxon ), Dr. Sarojendranath Roy (Ph.D. London), Sri Sourindranath Mitra (the first Head of the Dept.), Sri Sudhangshu Sekhar Mandal, Sri Kshitindra Chandra Ghosal, Sri Ajit Nath Nandi, Sri Akshay Kr. Dey, Sri Nirad Bandhu Mukherjee (formerly of JU), Sri Binoy Chowdhury joined the Dept. and immensely contributed to its steady burgeoning. The Dept. owes profound debts of gratitude to them. The Dept. is also indebted, in no small measure, to Sri Dilip Kumar Sanyal, Sri Dwijadas Banerjee (first enrolled student of the College; later Director, Rabindra Bhaban, VB), Dr. Binoy Banerjee (alumnus, ex-Professor, NBU), Prof. Harijiban Ghosh (ex-Principal, Holkar College, Madhya Pradesh), Sri Prasanta Pal, Sri Adhip Kr. Ghosh Dastidar, Sri Prasanta Banerjee, Sri M. N. De, Dr. Parbaticharan Chakraborty (alumnus; ex-Professor, BU), Sri Cowas de Tambuli, Sri Amitava Mitra (formerly of IIT, Kharagpur), Dr. Swapan Chakraborty (now Director, The National Library, Kolkata), Sri Sushil Mukherjee (formerly Principal, Scottish Church College), Prof. Ashok Mukherjee (formerly of Presidency College), Sri Kapila Chatterjee, Dr. R. K. Sen (D. Litt., CU), Dr. Amrit Sen (VB) and Dr. Amlan Dasgupta GU) for their contribution to the enrichment of the Dept. in their capacities as full-time or guest teachers. At present, ‘1 the faculty has 5 full-timers and 7 Guest lecturers.
A special word must be said about Sri Kshitindra Chandra Ghosal, the longest-serving Head of the Dept. (1962-83). More than anybody else before or since, he contributed to the Dept.’s consolidation into its present position of importance in the academic hierarchy of the College. A scholar equally at home with English and Bengali literature, a strict disciplinarian and an uncompromising perfectionist, he spared no pains to maintain a high standard of work culture in the Dept. and commanded the respect of his students as well as his colleagues. The Shakespeare Gallery, The Sophocles Gallery and the Language Laboratory bear testimony to his creative genius and his exceptional organisational skill. It was under his leadership that the Dept. hosted a 5-day State-Level Seminar on Humanities subjects under the UGC-sponsored COHSSIP (College Humanities and Social Sciences Improvement Programme) scheme, in July 1978. It was a grand success, indeed! On Sri Ghosal’s retirement, the mantle of headship fell on Sri Sudhangshu Sekhar Mandal who ably sustained the legacy handed down to him. Sri Satiprasad Maiti took over as HOD in 1998. The four other members of Team English are : Sri Satyaki Pal, Sri Dipaksankar Chakraborty, Sri Sajal Bhattacharya and Sri Arya Ghosh.
The Dept. boasts the richest seminar library of the college with a collection of nearly 5000 books. Students borrow books at regular intervals and the faculty, sees to it that the library delivers to full potential. The faculty is student-friendly, supportive and easy of access. The students of the Dept. have been, over the years, taking the lead in the cultural affairs of the College. They are all agog when it comes to the periodical publication of the Department’s Wall-magazine ‘Image’. The Dept. has recently set up a Film Theatre where students can view film versions of the novels and dramas prescribed for study in their curriculum, besides other critically acclaimed movies.
Much as the faculty might wish, the Dept. went without a first class in the University exams over a long stretch of years. Then in 2003, Sri Shishir Roy, the Dept.’s wonder boy, broke the jinx. He not only secured 1st class but also won the 1st position. He repeated the performance in his M.A. Five of the Dept.’s students have secured 1st class since—a remarkable achievement, given that first classes in English do not come thick and fast and were until recently almost the exclusive preserve of only two or three colleges under the University of Calcutta. We are also proud of a distinguished alumntA of the Dept., Swami Purnatmananda, ex-Editor, UDBODHAN.
Seminar lectures, Symposia, workshops and talks by scholars well-known to the English-teaching academia, have always been a high spot of the Dept. In 2006, the Dept. had the proud privilege of hosting a UGC-Sponsored National-Level Seminar—the first ever in the college—on ‘Indian Poetry in English : The Problem of Canon’, with Prof. Nirmal Kumar Bhattacharya, Director, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, in the Chair. Among the speakers were the late Prof. (Dr.) Niranjan Mohanty of Visva Bharati, and Sri Ranjit Hoskote, stalwart art critic and poet. The seminar was rounded off by a brainstorming one-to-one interface between Sri Amit Chowdhury, a stalwart novelist in English and Dr. Swapan Chakraborty, one-time teacher of the Dept., then Prof. of JU and now Director, The National Library, Kolkata. The whole event was really a big draw. In 2009, the English Department Alumni Association in sync. with the Dept. successfully hosted a talk by Sri Amitav Ghosh, a front-ranking novelist in English and winner of many accolades. 2010 saw the iconic Indian playwright in English, Sri Mahesh Dattani, visit the Dept. and give a heart-warming talk that held a capacity audience spell-bound.
The attainment of Autonomous Status in 2008 and, by happy co-incidence, the introduction of the P.G. course in the Dept. in 2009 have no doubt set the Dept. firmly on the road to a further expansion of its activities. Some of the old boys of the Dept. including Prof. P. C. Chakraborty, Dr. Tirthankar Das Purakayastha, and Dr. Subhajit Sengupta—the Dept. cannot thank them enough—have come forward, in a remarkable gesture of solidarity, to help the Dept. grapple with the challenges the twin developments of 2008-09 have thrown its way.
New horizons unfold before the Dept.
Faculty List of English
|1. Mr. Dipak Shankar Chakraborty|
|2. Dr. Parbati Charan Chakravorty |
|3. Dr. Sandip Ain|
|4. Dr. Sumit Chakraborty|
|5. Mr. Subhobrata Banerjee|
|6. Dr. Subhojit Sengupta|
|7. nSuvankar Ghossh Roy Chowdhury|
|8. Sambuddha Ghosh|