Department of English: An introduction
The English Department of the University of Dhaka is one of the core departments of the institution. Its mission from the beginning has been to establish itself as the chief center of English Studies in this part of the world and to produce graduates who are highly skilled in the English language and who have absorbed the great tradition of writing in English encapsulated in the classics of English and American literature. The Department also considers its mission to graduate students who can wield the language effectively in a competitive world to advance themselves as well as the nation towards progress and prosperity without losing sight of the humanizing nature of English Studies.
SHORT HISTORY OF THE DEPARTMENT
The Department of English at the University of Dhaka has a long and distinguished history. It was one of the first twelve departments that the university started with on July 1, 1921. Students and teachers of the Department of English contributed in establishing and developing the nation’s cultural and literary landscape and their names have a place in Bangladesh’s history.
Lila Nag, a student of this Department, was the first woman graduate of the University of Dhaka. Famous literary geniuses like Buddhadev Bose and Munier Chowdhury have graduated from the department. In the seventies and eighties teachers like Professor Kabir Chowdhury, Professor Serajul Islam Choudhury, Professor Ahsanul Haque, Professor Husniara Haq and Professor Razia Khan Amin made great contributions in the socio-political and literary fields of the country. Some of them were prolific writers in both Bangla and English. National Professor Kabir Chowdhury, after his retirement, became a part-time teacher in the department. Professor Serajul Islam Choudhury is the present Professor Emeritus of the department. Both of them have made notable contributions in the fields of Bangla and English language and literature.
During the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, both teachers and students of the Department played active and glorious roles. Some took on the vital role of organizing the freedom struggle inside the country while others fought on the war front. Professor Dr. Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta was martyred on the fateful night of March 25, 1971, while Mr. Rashidul Hasan, a Senior Lecturer, was abducted and killed by the Al-Badr on December 14, 1971, just before the Victory Day. The Literature Seminar of the department has been named the Guhathakurta-Rashid Seminar in their honour. In 2008, the Chair of that time, Professor Dr. Khondakar Ashraf Hossain, took the initiative to build a wooden installation on the wall of the seminar library as a memorial for the teachers and students of the Department martyred during the liberation war of Bangladesh. Professor Kaiser Md. Hamidul Haq actively participated in our glorious liberation war. Many students of the Department embraced martyrdom during the liberation war; the department will never forget their sacrifices and continues to treasure them as national heroes.
Student Martyrs of the Liberation War
Atiqur Rahman Alauddin
Mahmud Zaheen Kartik Chandra Shil
Shishutosh Datta Choudhury
Sheikh Abdus Salam
Nani Gopal Bhowmik
FROM THE PAGES OF HISTORY
Buddhadeva Bose (1908–1974) was a major Indian Bengali writer of the 20th century. Buddhadeva Bose received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1967 for his verse play Tapaswi-O-Tarangini, the Rabindra Puraskar in 1974 for Swagato Biday (poetry); he was honoured with a Padma Bhushan in 1970.
Munier Choudhury (27 November 1925–14 December 1971), was a Bangladeshi educationist, playwright, literary critic and activist. He received the Bangla Academy Prize (1962), Daud Prize (1965) and Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 1966.
Leela Roy née Nag (2 October 1900–11 June 1970) was the first female graduate of the University of Dhaka. Leela Nag was a social activist emphasizing education for girls. She started the second girls school in Dhaka She was also a politician and reformer and a close associate of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT TODAY
The Department of English, University of Dhaka, is now a nationally reputed centre for academic excellence and literary creativity. The Department is situated on the first floor of the Arts Building. It has a multimedia room and a computer lab to provide technical support to the students. It has two seminar libraries: the Guhathakurata-Rashid Seminar is the Literature Library and the Abi Md. Nizamul Huq Seminar is the Language Library. The Department publishes the peer-reviewed journal Spectrum which features original scholarly articles, book reviews, translations, interviews and creative pieces.
The Department offers courses for a four-year B.A. Honors degree in English. At the M.A. level, students can pursue either Applied Linguistics and ELT or English Literature degree. The Department also offers M. Phil and Ph.D. degrees. Many students from foreign countries, including India, Korea, Nepal, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Libya, Palestine and Somalia have studied in the Department in the past.
Scholarships and stipends are available for meritorious as well as needy students. These are provided by alumni and donors. The department arranges workshops, seminars, memorials and cultural programmes on a regular basis. Students participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, drama, debate, public speaking and cultural programmes.
At present, there are thirty two full-time faculty members, one Professor Emeritus, Professor, Dr Serajul Islam Choudhury, one UGC Professor, Dr Fakrul Alam, one Honorary Professor, Dr Sadrul Amin, and three part-time teachers working for the department. Some of the teachers of the department have specialized from reputed foreign universities in British, American, Caribbean and Postcolonial literatures, while others have done advanced work in ELT, Applied Linguistics and TESOL. The English Department teaching faculty comprises highly qualified academics and professionals. They keep themselves updated by engaging in professional activities. These include research, conducting and participating in workshops, national and international seminars and conferences. They have published extensively in academic journals at home and abroad.
Professors of the department have followed the footsteps of their peers in making significant contributions in the cultural and literary arenas of the country and have won several awards and prizes in recognition of their works. Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam won the Pope Memorial Gold Medal in 1972 for his performance in the B.A. Honours examination, and Fazlur Rahman Gold Medal in 1973 for his performance in the M.A. examination. He also won the Bangla Academy Award in 1996, Prothom Alo “Book of the Year” award in 2005, and Kagaj Sahitya Purashkar (Kagaj Literary Award) in 2006, and Katha Sahitya Kendra Literary award in 2011. Professor Dr. Kaiser M. H. Haq won the Pope Memorial Gold Medal for his performance in the B.A. Honours examination, and the Fazlur Rahman Gold Medal for his performance in the M.A. examination. He received the Bangla Academy Puroshkar (Literature Award) in the Translation Category for 2012. Professor Dr. Fakrul Alam received the Bangla Academy Puroshkar (Literature Award) in the Translation Category for 2013 and the SAARC Literature Award, 2012. He has been Scholar-in-Residence at Clemson University, USA. He has published extensively internationally as well as nationally. He is now appointed as UGC Professor. Professor Dr Rubina Khan won the Leadership and Management Special Interest Group (SIG) award at the 45th International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) Conference in 2011. The current Chair, Professor Dr. Nevin Farida, was also a recipient of the Pope Memorial Gold Medal in 1987 for her performance in the B.A. Honours examination. Additionally, Professor Nafisa Jamal, Professor Rebecca Haque, Professor Kazal Krishna Banerjee, Professor Nuzhat Amin, Professor Shamsad Mortuza, Rumana Siddique and Batool Sarwar are among departmental teachers who have distinguished themselves as creative writers.
Among the several teachers who have passed away in the last decade are Professor Razia Khan Amin, Professor Khondakar Ashraf Hossain, Professor Ahsanul Haque, Professor Imtiaz Hasan Habib, Ms Husniara Huq and Ms Inari Hussain who have made significant contribution to our literature. Quite a few distinguished faculties have retired in the past few years, including Professor Niaz Zaman, Professor Dr. Shawkat Hussain, Professor Dr. Kaiser M. Hamidul Haq, Professor Dr Syed Manzoorul Islam, Professor Dr Sadrul Amin Professor Nafisa Jamal, Professor Dr Fakrul Alam and Professor Dr Kazal Krishna Banerjee.
HEADS OF THE DEPARTMENT (1921-1972)
1. Mr. C. L. Wren 1922-1923
2. Dr. S. K. Das 1923-1924
3. Mr. C. L. Wren 1924-1927
4. Mr. Mahmud Hassan 1927-1932
5. Dr. S. N. Roy 1932-1933
6. Mr. Mahmud Hassan 1933-1942
7. Dr. S. N. Roy 1942-1947
8. Dr. Sukumar Ganguly 1947-1950
9. Dr. Itrat Hossain Zuberi 1951-1953
10. Miss A. G. Stock 1953-1954
11. Mr. J. S. Turner 1954- 1958
12. Dr. Syed Sajjad Husain 1959-1969
13. Dr. Khan Sarwar Murshid 1969-1972
CHAIRPERSONS SINCE 1973
1. Professor Dr. Serajul Islam Choudhury 1973-1976
2. Professor Kabir Chowdhury 1976-1979
3. Professor Dr. Serajul Islam Choudhury 1979-1979
4. Professor M. Shamsuddoha 1979-1982
5. Professor Dr. Razia Khan Amin 1982-1985
6. Professor Dr. M. Ahsanul Haque 1985-1988
7. Professor Dr. Syed Manzoorul Islam 1988-1991
8. Professor Dr. Khandker Rezaur Rahman 1991-1994
9. Professor Dr. Fakrul Alam 1994-1997
10. Professor Dr. Niaz Zaman 1997-1999
11. Professor Dr. Khondakar Ashraf Hossain 1999-2000
12. Professor Dr. Niaz Zaman 2000-2000
13. Professor Dr. Shawkat Hussain 2000-2003
14. Professor Dr. Sadrul Amin 2003-2006
15. Professor Dr. Khondakar Ashraf Hossain 2006-2009
16. Professor Rebecca Haque 2009-2012
17. Professor Tahmina Ahmed 2012-2015
18. Professor Dr. Rubina Khan 2015-2018
19. Professor Kazal Krishna Banerjee 2018-2019
20. Professor Nevin Farida 2019-
ENGLISH DEPARTMENT ALUMNI SOCIETY (EDAS)
The department has an active alumni society which was pioneered by late Professor Dr Ahsanul Haque in the 1980s. The EDAS Bash is celebrated regularly every year. The 34th EDAS Bash was celebrated this year in January 2020 at TSC.