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University of Oxford Faculty of English

Mukherjee, Ankhi

Position: Professor of English and World Literatures; Tutorial Fellow, Wadham College
College: Wadham
Period/Subject: Victorian, 20th-21st Century, Critical Theory, Postcolonial Studies

Email address:

Research Interests:

While my first monograph, Aesthetic Hysteria: The Great Neurosis in Victorian Melodrama and Contemporary Fiction (Routledge, 2007), drew largely on Victorian literature and culture, my second book,  What Is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Canon (Stanford University Press, 2014) asks how classics emanate from postcolonial histories and societies. Exploring definitive trends in twentieth- and twenty-first century English and Anglophone literature, I examine the relevance of the question of the classic for the global politics of identifying and perpetuating so-called core texts. Emergent canons are scrutinized in the context of the wider cultural phenomena of book prizes, the translation and distribution of world literatures, and multimedia adaptations of world classics. The book's ambitious historical schema includes South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the West Indies, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and North America. What Is a Classic? won the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for English Literature in 2015.

I am currently working on an interdisciplinary project that examines the institution of psychoanalysis and its vexed relationship with race and the urban poor in the context of three global cities: Mumbai, London, and New York. 

I have co-edited, with Laura Marcus, a Blackwell Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture, a project that showcases path-breaking new work by leading critics in the field of literary psychoanalysis. I am currently editing After Lacan, a collection of essays on the intellectual and cultural legacies of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press).

Teaching Areas:

Undergraduate: Prelims Paper 1: Introduction to English Language and Literature, English literature 1760 to the present, various special authors and topics

I primarily teach Victorian literature, Modern British and Anglophone literature, the history and theory of criticism, postcolonial and world literatures. 

Graduate: MSt in English (1900-present) and MSt in World Literatures in English

My graduate teaching is closely allied to my research interests and has included topics such as literature and psychoanalysis; race and writing; postcolonialism and feminism; the novel and human rights.

I have supervised ten doctoral students to date on a wide range of topics including Victorian women's travelogues on Meiji Japan; the aesthetics of hunger in Beckett, Auster, and Coetzee; partition narratives from South Asia and the Middle East; representations of disability in the postcolonial Anglophone novel. 

Recent Publications:


Aesthetic Hysteria: The Great Neurosis in Victorian Melodrama and Contemporary Fiction (Routledge, 2007)

What is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Canon (Stanford University Press, 2013)

Editor (with Laura Marcus), A Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture (Blackwell Publishers, 2013)

Selected Journal Articles

"Creole Modernism." Affirmations: Of the Modern 2.1 (Winter 2014)

“‘This Traffic of Influence’: Derrida and Spivak,” Special Issue “Gayatri Spivak: Postcolonial and Other Pedagogies,” Parallax 60 (Summer 2011)

“‘What is a Classic?’: International Literary Criticism and the Classic Question,” Special Topic “Literary Criticism for the Twenty-first Century” ed. Cathy Caruth and Jonathan Culler, PMLA (October 2010)

“‘Yes, sir, I was the one who got away’: Postcolonial Emergence and the Question of Global English,” Études Anglaises N°3 (2009)

“The Death of the Novel and Two Postcolonial Writers,” special issue “Influence” ed. Andrew Elfenbein, Modern Language Quarterly 69.4 (December 2008)

“Fissured Skin, Inner Ear Radio, and a Telepathic Nose: The Senses as Media in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children,” Paragraph 29:6 (November 2006)

“Buried Alive: The Gothic Carceral in V. S. Naipaul’s Fiction,” special issue “V.S. Naipaul” ed. Pradyumna Chauhan, South Asian Review (Fall 2005)

“Missed Encounters: Repetition, Rewriting, and Contemporary Returns to Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations,” Contemporary Literature  46:1 (Spring 2005)

“Stammering to Story: Neurosis and Narration in Pat Barker’s Regeneration,” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 43 (Fall 2001)

Selected Chapters in Multi-author Texts

"Affect." Critical Transitions: Trajectories of Change. Ed. Marc Botha and Patricia Waugh. London: Bloomsbury, 2016

"Nautical Melodrama." The Cambridge Companion to English Melodrama. Ed. Carolyn Williams. Cambridge: CUP, 2016

"Politics." Nineteenth-Century Poetry: Criticism and Debates. Ed. Jonathan Herapath and Emma Mason. New York and London: Routledge, 2015

"Primetime Psychoanalysis." A Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture. Ed. Laura Marcus and Ankhi Mukherjee. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2014

“Race: Victorian Literature.” Oxford Bibliographies Online, 2012

The Rushdie Canon.” Salman Rushdie: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Ed. Robert Eaglestone and Martin McQuillan. London: Bloomsbury, 2012

Postcolonial Responses to the Western Canon.” The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature (2 volumes). Ed. Ato Quayson, Cambridge: CUP, 2011

Other Information:

I was Deputy Chair of Moderations in English Language and Literature from 2011-12 and Chair of Preliminary Examinations from 2012-13. I co-convene, with Elleke Boehmer, a long-running Postcolonial Studies seminar, usually held fortnightly in term at Wadham College.

I am on the editorial board of The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry and the consultative group of Women: A Cultural Review. I review books for Cambridge University Press, Stanford University Press, Routledge, and a host of international peer-reviewed journals, including Interventions, Ariel, Notes and Queries, Postcolonial Literary Inquiry. 

I was a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre, The Australian National University, in 2014.

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