The Department of English is one of the seven departments with which the University of Rajshahi started its academic activities in 1954. The department started its first academic session with 3 students in 1954. University classes at that time were held in Rajshahi College. In 1961, with a number of other departments, the Department of English was shifted to the university’s own campus at Motihar where it was housed in the east corner of the first floor of the First Science Building. In 1965, it was moved to its faculty building Shahidullah Kala Bhaban (known as the First Arts Building at that time).
The founding Head of the department was Professor Syed Ali Ashraf. Since then, the department has progressed with dedicated and pioneering services from eminent educationists like Professor Sudhindra Nath Mukherjee, Professor Zillur Rahman Siddiqui, Professor Mohammad Ali, Professor Amanullah Ahmed, Quazi Joan Hossain, Professor Sadruddin Ahmed, Professor Ali Anwar and Professor Aali Areefur Rehman.
The department has also had the services of visiting teachers at various times. They were Mr. Alan Evison (1972-73), Mr. James M. Mumme (1972-75), Mr. Andrew Fotheringham (1976-78) and Mr. Peter Whissen (1978-80).
Three former professors of the department have served as vice-chancellors of different universities of the country. They are Professor Zillur Rahman Siddiqui (Jahangirnagar University), Professor Mohammad Ali (Chittagong University) and Professor Amanullah Ahmed (Rajshahi University).
At present the department has the faculty strength of fifteen teachers and a student body of about five hundred regular students. To retain its excellence in academic matters, the department maintains a rich collection of books on English language and literature. It also arranges academic seminars including Professor Aali Areefur Rehman Lecture Series and encourages the students to take part in co-curricular activities.
The department has two publications: Praxis and Saptak. Saptak is a bilingual literary magazine that primarily focuses on the creative and critical practices of the students. On the other hand, Praxis, an annual peer-reviewed journal, documents the department’s orientation to research and creativity.
The department has also a Translation and Editing Cell that provides language services locally and internationally.
The department has an officially recognized students’ body, the English Association. Under the direct patronization of the department, this body organizes and runs various co-curricular and extra-curricular activities aimed at helping students excel in diverse fields. The English Association also works with English Department Alumni Association for the welfare of the current and ex-students of the department.
Besides its regular Honours and Masters programmes, the department also has MPhil and PhD programmes in literature, cultural studies, translation studies and applied linguistics.