The University of Cambridge has recently been embroiled in controversy surrounding the syllabus of the English Literature Course. A group of undergraduates have called for a ‘decolonisation’ of the curriculum, which currently takes a ‘traditional’ and ‘canonical’ approach. For the first two years, the broad scope of ‘English’ Literature is covered, and it is only in third year that students are given the option to study Postcolonial Literature. Therefore, these students believe that there is a distinct lack of Black and Minority Ethnic writers, and that these writers should be included, alongside bringing postcolonial interpetation in across the board, for example, looking at Shakespeare plays such as Othello and Tempest through a postcolonial lense.
Others have worried that introducing more of these writers would cause the elimination of the white writers who currently dominate the syllabus, but Churchill fellow Priyamvada Gopal has iterated that white writers would not be affected by any of the proposed changes, rather that a more diverse range of writers and text would be considered ‘in coversation’ with one another. Both the students and academics considering the changes believe that it isn’t just about adding texts, but about rethinking the nature of what we consider to be British and English in a post-imperial world, including issues of race, gender and sexuality. The students campaigning also believe that such a development in the curriculum would encourage more students of a BME background to apply, which is another area of concern for both Cambridge and Oxford.
This discussion follows a recent move by Oxford to include a compulsory non-European paper in their History curriculum, following campaigns such as Rhodes Must Fall.
English Literature students, especially those interested in literature outside of the British Isles, should consider their stance on this argument and be prepared to discuss the nuances of it at interview. They could also further explore the literature written by authors in the postcolonial era and the themes this change in society give rise to. The same argument could also apply across Arts and Humanities subjects, including History of Art, Music and Languages.
Education students should consider how this may be relevant to education at younger ages, and whether the incorporation of more BME writers at an earlier stage may also be necessary. Similarly, History students can explore how the study of history, both in and out of education, might incorporate a variety of perspectives and how this changes our understanding of history. Politics applicants could consider whether politicians should get involved in such discussions.
- The Great Collection of Past Oxbridge Interview Questions The great thing about an Oxbridge interview is that it... Read more >
- The Differences Between Similar Courses At Oxford and Cambridge For some applicants, deciding between applying to Oxford or Cambridge... Read more >
- Are my grades good enough for Oxbridge? Grades are an area of much misunderstanding when it comes... Read more >
- Modern Languages and Linguistics Reading Lists Applying for languages? It’s always difficult to narrow down what... Read more >
- Download a History & English Personal Statement “Evidently reading is a major passion and Graham Greene has... Read more >
- Experimental Psychology & Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) Reading List If you are interested in Psychology, Oxford offers the Psychology... Read more >
- HAT mini mock paper The History Aptitude Test or ‘HAT’ must be sat by... Read more >
- Choosing a course From Arch and Anth to Veterinary Medicine, the range of... Read more >
- Statistics: 2015 Annual Survey Want to find out what your chances are of getting... Read more >
- TSA Cambridge mini mock & answers The Thinking Skills Assessment is required for a number of... Read more >
- Admissions Tests: our tips as featured in the Independent Last year, the Independent asked us to provide some simple... Read more >
- TSA Oxford mini mock & answers Thinking is very important to Oxford, so they’ve devised an... Read more >
- International Application Calendar Keeping on top of the various deadlines and decisions when... Read more >
- Access and Financial Support at Oxbridge As two of the world’s top universities, both Oxford and... Read more >
- Maths Puzzle: a game of chess We asked one of our top Maths Oxbridge tutors for... Read more >
- Outside reading: the key to a good application When it comes to writing your personal statement and preparing... Read more >
- Communications expert top tips One of our communications specialists, has his own advice for... Read more >
- Medicine, Maths, and Economics Puzzles We asked three of our top Medicine, Maths, and... Read more >
- PPE: answer like a pro If you’re applying for Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) or... Read more >
- Music Reading List Applying for Music at Cambridge or Oxford requires a range... Read more >
- Social and Political Sciences Reading List We’ve brought together a wide-ranging bibliography to help those applying... Read more >
- Classics and Arch & Anth Reading Lists If you’re applying for Classics, or for Archaeology and Anthropology,... Read more >
- Oxbridge: the global impact Concerning UK university admissions, UCAS have released some interesting stats.... Read more >
- Cambridge college snapshots Despite having a smaller number of colleges than Oxford, each of... Read more >