First exclusive South Asian Literature course to be implemented within CPS

H South Asian Literature: 72101H


Dominika Chruszcz

Texts that will be featured within the South Asian Literature course for the 2018-19 year include the ones above. “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini will be included in the class as well.

By Dominika Chruszcz, Editor-in-Chief

“Cracking India,” a fictionalized text based off of true events by Bapsi Sidhwa, is one of the novels English teacher Ms. Shafqat wants to add to her new South Asian Literature course that will be featured in the 2018-19 school year. Affected by the India-Pakistan partition, Shafqat will utilize different novels that have historical contexts in order to connect to the history of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Shafqat’s idea for this new course stems from her vision when she was a high school student at Lane. Her South Asian heritage, specifically Pakistani, inspired her to propose the curriculum to the CPS administration that is in charge of approving new classes.

“It’s all about representation, thinking about yourself and how you fit into the world around you and that definitely leads to developing as an individual, knowing who you are and how you want to impact the world around you,” Shafqat said. “For me, one of the ways I wanted to add onto our diversity here at Lane is through this course and offer this class to South Asians and non-South Asians.”

According to Shafqat, the South Asian Literature course will be the first implemented in CPS because it required a new course code.

Assistant Principal Ms. Thompson said that a teacher would have to submit a curriculum map that includes the standards and types of assessments of the class in order to get the course approved within CPS, aside from Lane administration.

“Mr. Tennison also is made aware of every new possible class and then we take that paperwork, ship it off to CPS and then they say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with a course code,” Thompson said.

The three major themes of the South Asian Literature class will involve representation, marginalization and trauma, according to Shafqat. The course will include prose, poetry and different multimedia projects. Students will be able to have critical reflections of their own identity and how they see themselves “into the larger tapestry of what makes America what it is,” Shafqat said.

“I feel that when I was a student in high school and in college, I didn’t really have a lot of outlets for that kind of expression so I think this class will provide that,” Shafqat said.

Ms. Vale, English Department Chair, was one of the individuals who supported Shafqat through the process of approving this class. According to Vale, she said she answers any questions if needed and reminds teachers to stay on top of their deadlines. Vale classified herself as a supporter “of the dreams and hopes of the teachers in [her] department.”

“When she proposed creating this class, it really seemed to me that her love of her students and her love of teaching them was what was foremost in her mind,” Vale said.

Vale said that she believes the South Asian Literature class will add to the culturally rich and diverse student body of Lane, along with Latin American Literature and African American Literature. Women in Literature is also a specialized class that all students can benefit from, according to Shafqat. Vale added that the past English literary canon has been limited in scope.   

“Over the last 10 years, new courses have been coming up that are more relevant to our students,” Vale said. “It has made me feel like we’re moving in the right direction: in the direction of working to get our students engaged and challenged by work that is pertinent to them.”

These culturally rich electives that are offered at Lane enable students to dig deeper within their own cultures and the cultures of their classmates, Vale said.

“It’s important for us to find out about one another,” Vale said. “I think classes like Shafqat’s class, the South Asian Literature class, will allow students to find out more about themselves and also to find out more about each other.”