Critical practice in the English Studies classroom: observations in Bulgaria

Gupta, Suman (2010). Critical practice in the English Studies classroom: observations in Bulgaria. English Studies, 91(3) pp. 328–343.



This paper argues that the classroom is a critically salient space for English Studies in ordinarily non-Anglophone contexts, where disciplinary boundaries are negotiated in ways that are redefining the discipline. In other words, in such contexts the classroom is not simply a space where the discipline as it is currently constituted or determined by advanced research and scholarly formations is conveyed, but is a space within which the discipline is constructed and reconstructed constantly with local realities in view. This is particularly so for English Studies in non-Anglophone contexts, it is maintained, because of the neglect such contexts suffer in the Anglocentric mainstream of the discipline. Since English Studies is now a global academic discipline, and is not confined to Anglophone contexts, such disciplinary negotiations are especially noteworthy. By way of evidence for this argument, this paper reports on classroom observations made in three state universities in Bulgaria in 2007-8. Some of the general features of English Studies in Bulgaria which informed these observations are outlined with regard to programme and course structures, student expectations and preconceptions of teachers. The observations are given in the final section, and chart some of the practices that can be discerned in teaching and learning whereby the boundaries of the discipline are critically negotiated. English Studies in Bulgaria, as in many non-Anglophone contexts, is structured as a composite of English language, literature and culture studies, and the observations in question cover all those directions. Importantly, these observations were not undertaken with a view to judging the efficacy of teaching-learning strategies or making normative recommendations about effective teaching. Classroom practices are noted here only insofar as they appear to impinge upon conceptions of the discipline itself.

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