Bond enters canon

October 6, 2000

The English classics curriculum at Delhi University is to be reduced to make room for more contemporary texts, including popular fiction, in a move that has raised eyebrows in conservative academic circles.

The new undergraduate reading list includes Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garc!a M rquez, Sylvia Plath - and Ian Fleming and Agatha Christie. Also joining the canon is science fiction, with Isaac Asimov making an entry into the classroom, much to the dismay of the old-fashioned English "lit" set.

This is by far the most radical revision in Delhi University's 100-year history. It is expected to set the tone for other universities.

The revision is a response to the persistent demand for a fresh look at how English is taught in India. Generally, the changes have been welcomed, but there is a view that the university has gone a bit too far.

"It is pushing the pendulum to the other extreme. We do need a less stuffy curriculum, but not by dumbing it down," a senior professor said.

Even some students are unenthusiastic about having to read Ian Fleming and Agatha Christie as "literature".

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