About Me

Photograph of Amrita Dhar

 

PhD, University of Michigan, 2018

MPhil, University of Cambridge, 2009

MA, Jadavpur University, 2006

BA, Jadavpur University, 2004

 

I grew up in Calcutta, and studied at the universities of Jadavpur (India), Cambridge (UK), and Michigan (USA). I am currently Assistant Professor of English at The Ohio State University, where I teach courses on early modern literature, disability studies, critical race and postcolonial studies, and the environmental humanities. I am also a climber and mountaineer, and work and write on world mountaineering literatures.

As a scholar of literature and a mountaineer, I am deeply invested in understanding embodiment, difference, and even as I use it, the tool that enables me to think about these and much else: language.

My writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Milton Studies, Shakespeare Bulletin, postmedieval, The Himalayan Journal, and various edited collections. This work has been supported over the years by the University of Michigan‘s Rackham Graduate School, Department of English Language and Literature, and Institute for Research on Women and Gender; the Folger Shakespeare Library; the SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) project Early Modern Conversions; the Huntington Library; The Women’s Place at The Ohio State University; and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

My first monograph–whose manuscript is nearing completion–is entitled Milton’s Blind Language and is a study of the workings of blindness towards the making of John Milton’s poetic language in his years of partial and complete loss of sight. I examine Milton’s psalm translations in his years of going blind, his later sonnets, and his last great poetic works, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. With the support of a year-long grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, I am on research leave in 2021-2022 for work on this project.

Two other book-length projects are in the works. The first of these, Regarding Sight and Blindness in Early Modern English Literature: Crossings of Disability, Race, and Empire, traces attitudes towards sight and blindness in early modern English literature to examine the relationship between, first, the cultural production of disability, and second, the intertwined phenomena of early modern global contact, race-making, and anxieties over identity, migrancy, and belonging. Primary sources for this study include canonical and marginal plays, remarkable and unremarkable poetry, broadside ballads, manuscript accounts of visual affliction and proposed remedies, printed and manuscript medicinal and culinary recipes, and religious and social tracts and sermons.

The second, A Social History of Indian Mountaineering, is an accessible account of Indian mountaineering, particularly Himalayan mountaineering, from its colonial “Golden Age” in the mid-twentieth century to the emerging models of the twenty-first. The social and historical investment of this work is in claiming space for mountaineers of the “non-traditional” kind—such as individuals at the intersections of less privileged genders, castes, social standing, financial reach, geography, age, and physical ability—who have historically enlarged the scope of the sport but are still the least credited for this work. In autumn 2019, I spoke to The Alpinist Podcast about mountaineering histories and archives.

In spring 2021, I co-led a seminar for the Shakespeare Association of America Annual Meeting 2021. Here is the page with details of our seminar on “Shakespeare in the ‘Post’Colonies: What’s Shakespeare to Them, or They to Shakespeare.” The seminar hosted a discussion between scholars, activists, writers, teachers, and theatre practitioners from over a dozen erstwhile colonial geographies about the stakes of reading, teaching, performing, and “doing” Shakespeare in the “post”colonies today. Seminar co-leader Amrita Sen (University of Calcutta) and I are planning an edited volume building on the work of this seminar.

For rigorous and generous intellectual companionship, I remain grateful to my academic families at the Medievalists of Color and the #ShakeRace collective. It means everything to belong in communities that use scholarship for deep, wide, and urgent engagement in the world and seek to create a more just future.

As a teacher, I am invested in my students’ intellectual growth and well-being. Many of my students stay in touch with me long after their semester(s) with me are over–to ask for reading recommendations and to share their journeys in life. I love this part of my job more than I can say.

In 2020-2021, I was Principal Investigator for a community-facing project, The Recovery Project: Actions of Survival, Archives of Resilience, supported by Ohio State University’s Global Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme COVID-19 Seed Grant.

Here are the archived pages of the mountaineering culture studies workshop I founded at the University of Michigan: The Mountaineering Culture Studies Group

 

To get in touch, write to me at dhar [dot] 24 [at] osu [dot] edu or tweet me [at] olidhar