Delhi University’s English department is likely to add disability literature as part of its revised curriculum for the undergraduate courses. The new course is expected to be given to colleges as an elective in both the undergraduate and master’s degree programmes.
According to a member of the English department, “The idea behind the new course is to make the undergraduate students view literature through the lens of disability and to evolve in them a fresh critical perspective for reading literary representations and to enable them to explore various forms of literary representations of disability. This will help make them aware of the different ways in which disability figures and operates in a literary narrative.” In short, this course aims to introduce the undergraduate students to the fundamental tenets of literary and cultural disability studies with the intention of bringing about a change in the way they have traditionally responded to disability and disabled people.
Over the past two decades, literary and cultural studies have opened up new spaces from where the traditional notion of disability as a negative difference in relation to normalcy can be challenged. Raj Kumar, head of the department of English, said that they are looking to make the new syllabus “inclusive.”
The objective of disability studies, therefore, he said, was to “include literature from marginal sections to give students a fresh perspective”. On the MA course, already approved by DU’s Standing committee, faculty member Anil Aneja said it will “promote sensitivity and understanding regarding disability” among future researchers and teachers by engaging students and will “familiarise students with historical outlook, disability theories and issues in relation to socio-cultural context and disability representations in literature”.
The department said that by the end of this course, the students should be able to gain an understanding of issues and concerns of persons with disabilities who are only now being included in the mainstream higher education system, both in terms of numbers and as voices in the academic curriculum. HoD Kumar added that courses on caste are also being planned at both the BA and MA levels.