HS305 - Reading Literature

HS305 - Reading Literature


Profs. Sharmistha Saha, Sharmila, Suddhaseel Sen


Autumn ‘20

Course Difficulty

The course was not difficult per se, but a good grasp of the English language would definitely help.

Time Commitment Required

3-4 hours per week (since it would involve going through the material and then writing the essay)

Grading Policy and Statistics

AA 23
AB 27
BB 34
BC 17
CC 19
CD 9
DD 12
FR 11

Attendance Policy

None that was enforced


Like I mentioned earlier, a good grasp of the English language, writing skills and a passion for reading is all that you need.

Evaluation Scheme

So the course had 3 modules (taken by three different professors and each one had equal weightage). All the assignments involved writing essays or critical analysis of the given texts and the marks would be varying depending on the professor.

Prof. Sharmistha Saha (34%)
3 essays of equal weightage (60%)
Group presentation (40%)

Prof. Sharmila
A series of short assignments (2-5 marks) and a longer critical essay (10 marks)

Prof. Suddhaseel Sen
2 essays of 15 marks each
3 marks for class participation

Topics Covered in the Course

Prof. Sharmistha Saha
Primary readings:

  1. Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry
  2. Charandas Chor by Habib Tanvir (Adapted from a folktale by Vijaydan
    Detha, Trans. Anjum Katyal) We will also discuss Tanvir’s play Mitti ki gadi (adaptation of Mrichchhakatika (The Little Clay Cart) by Sudraka in this context.
    Secondary readings:
  3. ‘Laughter: an essay on the meaning of the comic in Comedy’ by Henri Bergson
  4. The king and the clown by David Dean Shulman
  5. Laughing matters by Lee Siegel
  6. Standing up, speaking out edited by Mathew R. Meier and Casey R. Schmitt

Prof. Sharmila

  1. Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Red-Headed League” (From The Adventures of Sherlock
    Holmes, 1892).
  2. Susan Sontag, extracts from AIDS and Its Metaphors (Chapters 1, 2, 5 and 7) (1989) Prose non-fiction
  3. Baby Kamble, extracts from The Prisons We Broke (Chapters 10 and 11; trans) (2009) Autobiography
  4. Dino Buzzati, “The Epidemic” (trans) (2018)

Prof. Suddhaseel Sen

  1. Premchand - Sadgati/Satyajit Ray - the film adaptation
  2. Ibsen - An Enemy of the People/Satyajit Ray - the film adaptation

Teaching Style

The classes were primarily discussions based on the texts. Thus, it required the student to read the texts before hand in order to make the most of these classroom sessions.


The assignments were based on the text and required us to analyse the text critically in order to answer the question(s) given. Grading was heavily dependent on original ideas and not just paraphrasing the text and submitting it. Plagiarism was strictly penalized.

Feedback on Exams

There were none

Motivation for taking this course

I love reading and writing and it was a great respite from the math and engineering heavy courses that our lives generally revolve around.

Course Highlights

The course covered a variety of genres and the texts selected uniquely contributed to the overall flow of the course. The professors strongly encouraged us to put our ideas and thoughts forward (whether it be in our write up or during the lectures).

Course Importance

Like I mentioned, it was a great respite from the math and engineering heavy courses. Moreover, it also encouraged a lot of readers to read during the semester.

How strongly would I recommend this course?

If reading and writing is your thing then this course is a strong yes.

When to take this course?

Fifth semester, according to the curriculum

Going Forward

People who want to try out an HSS minor can definitely get a flavour of it through this course, especially if they want to pursue literature down the line.

References Used


Other Remarks



HS 305 Review By: Bhavini Jeloka