Associate Professor

2003, South Asian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

Bio

With a Ph.D. in South Asian area studies and comparative literature (2003, Columbia University), I have broad research and teaching interests, spanning Hindi-Urdu, Bangla, and Sanskrit literary cultures, as well as the vernacular theatres of North India.  However, I mostly work in Hindi, and am especially drawn to the Hindu epics in modern literature and theatre, especially Ramlila, a devotional form of theatre which enacts the story of the Ramayana in an annual fall festival.  Currently, I am working on a book project in connection with neighborhood Ramlilas in the vicinity of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, and one of the chief source books for Ramlila scripts, the Radheshyam Ramayana, which dates to the early twentieth century.  This book project traverses literature, performance, and ethnography, and engages with critical issues related to class, caste, gender, and religious identity.  My first book, Epic Nation: Reimagining the Mahabharata in the Age of Empire, concerns the mythological genre in Hindi, and in particular, modern literary adaptations of Mahabharata in the early twentieth century, against the backdrop of the independence movement and a renaissance of classical Hindu themes in Indian arts and letters.


Publications:

  • Epic Nation: Reimagining the Mahabharata in the Age of Empire (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009).
 
  • Chasing the Parsi Theatre in Bareilly,” TDR: The Drama Review T226, 59:2 (Summer 2015): 9-45, with supplemental online media.
  • “The Radheshyam Ramayana and the Sanskritization of Khari Boli Hindi,” Modern Asian Studies 47:5 (September 2013): 1644-1677.
  • “The Mahabharata’s Imprint on Contemporary Literature and Film,” in Popular Culture in a Globalised India, ed. Moti Gokulsing andWimal Dissanayake (London: Routledge, 2009), 82-94.
  • “The Mahābhārata as National History and Allegory in Modern Tales of Abhimanyu,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 71:2 (June 2008): 255-277.
  • “Unspeakable Outrages and Unbearable Defilements: Rape Narratives in the Literature of Colonial India,” Postcolonial Text 3:1 (2007): 1-19.

Awards

  • Rajkumar Faculty Fellowship, Carolina Asia Center, UNC, Summer 2018
  • American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Research Fellowship, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Fall 2017
  • Alternate for the National Humanities Fellowship, 2017-2018
  • Grant for Ramlila exhibit, UNC Global, UNC, 2015
  • Curriculum/Course Development Grants, Carolina Asia Center, UNC, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016
  • Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship, 2012-2013
  • Institute for the Arts and Humanities Fellowship, UNC, Spring 2012
  • University Research Council Small Grants, UNC, 2009-2011 and 2011-2013
  • Travel Award, Carolina Asia Center, UNC, 2011
  • Research Grant, North Carolina Center for South Asian Studies, 2011
  • Course Development Grant, North Carolina Center for South Asian Studies, 2010-2011
  • Humanities and Fine Arts Award, UNC, 2010-2011
  • Andrew W. Mellon Post-doctoral Fellowship, UCLA, 2004-05 (declined)

Courses Taught:

ASIA 61: First-Year Seminar: India Through the Lens of Master Filmmakers
ASIA 152: Survey of South Asian Cultural History
ASIA 261/CMPL 261: India through Western Eyes
ASIA 262: Nation, Film, and Novel in Modern India
ASIA 331/PWAD 331/HIST 335: Cracking India: Partition and its Legacy in South Asia
ASIA 332: The Story of Rama in India
ASIA 333: The Mahabharata: Remembered and Reimagined
ASIA/RELI 382: The Story of Rama in India–Experiential
ASIA/RELI 383: The Mahabharata: Remembered and Reimagined–Experiential