In this issue of FORTELL we focus on the theme of interdisciplinarity in the English classroom. Though not a new area, interdisciplinarity has been gaining popularity in recent years in policy formation, syallabi designing, teaching methodologies, research and publications. In seeking to combine skills and methods from more than two disciplines, metaphors of crossing over, creating bridges and having dialogues are often associated with the area. There is no doubt that bringing in perspectives from different disciplines widens the horizon for novel possibilities of research; fields like biotechnology, biochemistry and women’s studies engage both theoreticians and practitioners from multiple disciplines. In interdisciplinary pedagogical practices, the role of the teacher is even more significant as Prof. GJV Prasad points out in the interview; the teacher should equip the students with a tool kit drawn from different disciplines and teach them the various uses of these tools. In this area, as disciplines attempt to converse with each other and have a meaningful dialogue by pooling in skills and methodologies, they aim to move towards a synthesis of perspectives in approaching a particular problem, research question or project. Although the existence of interdisciplinarity on interstices of disciplines is liberating yet we need to be cautious about superficial interventions considering its position of liminality.
In the specific context of English Studies, one perspective on interdisciplianity is that it is ‘old hat’, this is the position that Nidhi Verma explores in her paper. History, sociology and psychology have never been too far from teaching a literary text in class. Perhaps now that the concept is gaining currency, we need to create more opportunities for formal exchanges that would allow various disciplines to exchange ideas. Teacher’s orientation and training can make a sea of difference in such approaches in the classroom. Santosh Kumar Mahapatra discusses his experiments of teaching academic language skills to B.Tech students by drawing on their knowledge and understanding of science. Deepti Bhardwaj discusses her research which explores the lacunae that exists in depiction of families of Chandni Chowk from 1911 to 1947. While different disciplines like history, sociology and literature have dealt with it, gaps need to be filled with archival studies, family histories and life stories.
Even as our three feature articles concern themselves with issues of interdisciplinarity in higher education, the basic problems related to English Language acquisition form the basis of the other articles in this issue. We hope that by bringing these concerns related to English language learning and teaching at different levels to the fore, we will be able to actively engage with them and find ways that will ensure better and more meaningful interactions in language classrooms!
Wish you all a happy new year!
Ruchi and Rachna, Guest Editors
Ruchi Kaushik is Associate Professor of English at Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D in Materials Development in SP