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Stumping Sherlock Holmes

Or, that?s the belief of many students wanting to study English(H) in DU.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2006 01:50 IST

Did you know that Robinson Crusoe featured in Scooby Doo, or that Scarlett O’Hara was a character from Harry Potter?

No? We didn’t think so either. But these are some of the answers students aspiring to join the English Honours course at DU colleges came up with.

A number of students also thought Shylock featured with Sherlock Homes (sic) in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works. Apparently, only two students knew the correct answer — Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

As an indicator of the kind of reading habits the generation Xers inculcate, the only character they managed to identify properly with the book was Mowgli. “That’s perhaps because they read comic books. Most students, even those with very high marks in English, could not identify some of the most well-known literary characters. Several students thought Mr Rochester is a character from Da Vinci Code,” said Mita Bose, senior reader English at IP College.

“Clearly, they don’t read despite the fact that they are able to score high marks in boards. They are not suitable for reading literature. We have already eliminated students who don’t appear to read anything,” she added.

Some 700-odd students appeared for the English entrance at IP College on Saturday, while another 950 appeared for the test at Hindu, throwing traffic completely out of gear outside both the colleges.

“There were rows of cars parked outside and teachers and invigilators had trouble entering the college,” said a faculty member from Hindu. Things were not much different at IP. At Hindu, students had to write an essay on their response to the demand to ban Fanaa and Da Vinci Code from different quarters. “We only want to check their aptitude for literature, so the paper was largely comprehension-based,” said Sunil Dua, HoD English at Hindu College.

While both the colleges had cited the cut-off marks for appearing in the entrance test, many candidates still turned up requesting relaxation of the criteria. Many others turned up after applying on OMR forms. “They said they should be allowed to appear as they were not aware that they had to apply through the college form for the test,” said Bose. Both the institutions were receiving only college forms for the English entrance test.

“We need some separate information for the entrance tests. Besides students apply on the OMR form just for the heck of it. The ones who are serious about taking up the specified course at the college are cautious enough to check the prospectus and the criteria,” said a faculty member at Hindu.