Courses » Indian Fiction in English

Indian Fiction in English


The course intends to provide a comprehensive understanding of fiction written in English in India since its emergence in the 19th century and to introduce the learners to the literary ground covered in major literary histories, anthologies and critical discussions from the 1960s onwards. Apart from a chronological survey, the course will focus on the historical and literary origins of the genre, its political and economic underpinnings, the debates and controversies within the field and the crisis in contemporary literary studies. The objective of the course is also to expose the students to questions of nation, secularism, caste, gender, region and identity inherent in the writings. To enable a more nuanced engagement selected novels will be read and analysed within current critical frameworks such as postcolonialism, feminism, caste studies, historiography studies etc. the new trends in writing and publishing are also discussed in order to give a perspective of the genre in the present century. The pedagogy will include lectures, discussions and presentations by students. The locus of the course will be on peer learning and also on developing the skills for critical enquiry and academic research. The students are expected to read the prescribed novels and critical material.

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All content including discussion forum and assignments, is free

Final Exam (in-person, invigilated, currently conducted in India) is mandatory for Certification and has INR Rs. 1100 as exam fee.

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Students, general audience with interest in Fiction


UG/PG: PG course



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Dr.Merin Simi Raj teaches in the Dept.of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras.Her teaching and research interests include literary historiography, Literary Criticism, Indian writing in English, Postcolonial literature and Narratives of marginality.


Week 1  :  Introduction, background and literary history - From Srinivasa Iyengar, M.K.Naik and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra - Questions of language, legitimacy and nationalism - Regional writing vs. writing in English
Week 2  :  Early novels of the 19th century - Discussions based on Meenakshi Mukherjee’s works - the genealogy of Indian novel - Indulekha - Rajmohan’s Wife
Week 3  : ‘Gandhi Novels’ of the 1930s-1940s and beyond - From Priyamvada Gopal and Rumina Sethi - Kanthapura - Waiting for the Mahatma
Week 4  : Novels of the 1950s and 1960s - dominant themes and traditions – Post-independence writing - Heat and Dust - The Strange Case of Billy Biswas
Week 5  :  Women and Indian Fiction in English - The question of gender, feminist concerns, the idea of ‘home’ - Cry, the Peacock - Nayantara Sehgal
Week 6  :  Post-1980s and Rushdie: Writing the Postcolonial Nation - Midnight’s Children - The Shadow Lines
Week 7  :  Post-1980s and Rushdie: Writing the Postcolonial Nation - Ice Candy Man - The Hungry Tide - Riot
Week 8  : The region vs. the nation in Indian Fiction in English - Bombay in IE fiction - Writings from the North East - Temsula Ao’s short stories - “The Remains of the Feast” by Gita Hariharan
Week 9   :  Caste in Indian Fiction in English - Untouchable - The God of Small Things - A Fine Balance
Week 10 :  The global market, Booker events and literary canon - The ‘Stefanian’ writers - Arvind Adiga and Kiran Desai
Week 11 :  Indian fiction in English in the contemporary
Week 12 :  ‘Other’ writings    
  • The exam is optional for a fee.
  • Date of Exams : October 28 (Sunday)
  • Time of Exams : Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon session: 2pm to 5pm
  • Exam for this course will be available in both morning & afternoon sessions.
  • Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
  • The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published.


  • Final score will be calculated as : 25% assignment score + 75% final exam score
  • 25% assignment score is calculated as 25% of average of  Best 8 out of 12 assignments
  • E-Certificate will be given to those who register and write the exam and score greater than or equal to 40% final score. Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Madras.It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.