Humanities & Social Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

The English discipline at IIT Kanpur is a unique blend of Literature, Linguistics and ELT streams. While the discipline’s flagship programme remains the Ph.D, it offers a range of electives in literature, linguistics and ELT/ESL studies for undergraduate majors in Engineering and Science. It also offers Minors in Literature and Linguistics for students looking for an extended engagement with the subjects. The discipline serves the cause of liberal education in broadening students’ intellectual horizons through exposing them not only to different bodies of knowledge, but also to different ways of knowing and applying that knowledge.

English and Linguistics syllabus  

The Literature division offers a wide variety of electives for the undergraduates and specialized courses for doctoral candidates in English. While drawing largely on the canonical and noncanonical texts in Anglo-American and World Literatures in English, these courses aim to train students in ways of negotiating various literary traditions and cultural diversity. Seeking to inculcate analytical and critical thinking skills in its learners, the Literature courses primarily expose them to literary texts and theories and thereby encourage lucid writing practices besides involving them in theatre, literary discussion clubs, and creative writing workshops. The doctoral students, especially, are acquainted with current areas of research as well as the latest theories and advancements in existing fields and thus are trained to be research scholars of high calibre and competent teachers. 

The postgraduate teaching programme in Linguistics addresses issues of contemporary relevance in the field with emphasis on an interdisciplinary perspective on language. The Linguistics programme at this institute is perhaps the only one in the country that offers a variety of courses at the undergraduate level. Apart from introducing students to the issues of language structure and use, Linguistics courses sensitise them to a variety of issues concerning cognitive underpinnings of language and language-society interface. 

The ELT stream offers postgraduate courses in syllabus development, applied linguistics, second language acquisition and language assessment among others. The focus is on teaching English in Indian contexts. The undergraduate courses focus on advanced language skills such as academic reading and writing, and also introduce basics of second language acquisition theories. 

All three streams pool their resources together in offering the undergraduates instruction in English Language and Communication Skills, Communication Skills: Composition, and Preparatory English for those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. 


The English Discipline has a dynamic research programme. 

The Literature faculty currently focuses on the following research areas: 

  • African American Literature
  • American Literature
  • The Anthropocene Literature
  • British Literature
  • Climate Fiction and Films
  • Cultural Studies
  • Cyberpunk Literature
  • Dalit Literature
  • Feminist Theory and Literature
  • Film Studies
  • Indian Literature and Aesthetics
  • Indian Writing in English
  • Jewish Literature
  • Literature and the Environment
  • Literature in Translation
  • Modernist/Postmodernist Theory and Literature
  • Postcolonial Theory and Literature
  • Posthuman Theory and Literature

The research carried out by the literature faculty in these areas focuses on the cultural, historical, theoretical, pedagogical, and textual perspectives. Insights that accrue from such scholarship invigorate both our undergraduate and graduate literature courses by ensuring that instruction is informed by the most current and relevant disciplinary knowledge. 

The Linguistics faculty focuses on the following research areas: 

  • Cognitive Linguistics
  • Discourse Semantics
  • Generative Grammar
  • Language Acquisition and Evolution
  • Lexical Semantics
  • Lexical Semantics
  • Computational Linguistics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • South Asian Linguistics
  • Language Documentation and Description
  • Linguistic Typology
  • Dravidian Linguistics
  • Historical Linguistics

The ELT faculty focuses on the following research areas: 

  • Instructed second language acquisition
  • Syllabus design
  • Task-based language teaching and learning
  • Language assessment

The research in these areas focuses primarily on English as a second language in Indian contexts. An attempt is made to draw on theories of linguistics and education and apply them to pedagogic contexts. The ELT faculty is involved in supervising research in applied linguistics, classroom-based language assessment, task-based language teaching and its interface with current developments in linguistics and education, form focus in ESL contexts, etc. 


The English discipline as a whole involves itself with various administrative responsibilities and initiatives consistent with a programme of academic counselling, student support and faculty governance.