Debjani Ganguly


122 Wilson Hall

Office Hours: On leave Fall 2023.


World Literature, Global Anglophone Literatures, Postcolonial Studies, Caste and Dalit Studies, Oceanic Literary Worlds, Literature and Human Rights, Technologies of War and Violence, Planetary Humanities


I work on postcolonial and world literatures, and anglophone novel studies. My latest publication is a two-volume The Cambridge History of World Literature (2021). I am series editor (with Francesca Orsini) of the Cambridge book series Cambridge Studies in World Literature.
My monograph, This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form (2016) traces the interlaced histories of globalism, information technology, ethnic violence, and humanitarian connectivity as these have shaped the contemporary anglophone novel. I am currently completing a monograph entitled Catastrophic Modes and Planetary Realism. The book conceives catastrophe in the language of existential risk rather than as an end-of-the-world occurrence. Literary and cinematic works on four iconic contemporary scenarios of catastrophe feature in this study: drone warfare, viral pandemics, nuclear accidents, and climate change. I explore the changing aesthetics of realism in a planetary realm and the ontological upending of the realist novel’s humanist ground by mega-scale nonhuman forces.
My first monograph, Caste, Colonialism, and Counter-Modernity (2005), is an intellectual history and a revisionist ethnography of caste and untouchability in India from the point of view of theoretical developments in the field of postcolonial studies. Spanning a period from the eighteenth century to the present, the book traces the discursive horizons of caste from early colonial histories and anthropological tracts to contemporary dalit literature and postcolonial historiographical projects such as Subaltern Studies.
As director of humanities institutes in two countries over a decade and a half, I have extensive experience in fostering international projects and networks in the fields of environmental humanities, digital humanities, human rights and refugee migration, and global south studies. From 2017-2021, I led a Lab, Humanities Informatics, with an interdisciplinary team of computer scientists, data scientists, media scholars, sociologists, philosophers, literary theorists, legal scholars, ethicists, and historians of science and technology. The Lab explored epistemological and ethical questions about contemporary infrastructures of information - social media, big data, algorithms, AI - that shape knowledge and values in society.
I have held visiting fellowships at the University of Chicago, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am a Fellow and Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and advisory board member of the Harvard Institute for World Literature, the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory (Bologna), the Interdisciplinary Centre for Global South Studies (Tübingen) and the Centre in Culture, Language, and Communication (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University).
The Cambridge History of World Literature, 2 volumes, Editor, Cambridge University Press, 2021
This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016
Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual, ed. Melbourne University Press, 2007

Articles and Book Chapters (select)

‘Angloglobalism, Multilingualism, and World Literature, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Vol.24, No.8, 2022
‘The Scale of Realism in the Global Novel,’ Global Literary Studies: Key Concepts, eds Diana Roag Sanchez and Neus Rotger, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2022,
‘The Speculative Turn in Feminist World Literature’, Feminism and World Literature, editor Robin Goodman, London: Bloomsbury, 2022
‘Catastrophic Form and Planetary Realism,’ New Literary History, Vol.51, No.2, 2020
‘The Global Novel: Comparative Perspectives,’ New Literary History, Vol.51, No.2, 2020
‘Salman Rushdie and the World Picture of Islam,’ The Wiley-Blackwell Companion World Literature, Volume 5, ed. B. Venkat Mani and Ken Seigneurie, 2020
‘The Scale of the Historical Novel in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy’, MLA Volume on Amitav Ghosh, editors, Gaurav Desai and John Stratton, 2019
‘Humanitarian Scripts in the World Novel’ in Worldmaking: Literature, Language, Culture, ed. Tom Clark, Emily Finlay, Phillipa Kelly, London: John Benjamins, 2017
‘The Value of Worldmaking in Global Literary Studies’ The Values of Literary Studies, ed. Ronan McDonald, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
‘Polysystems Redux: The Unfinished Business of World Literature,’ Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, Vol.2, No.2, 2015
‘Postcolonialism’s Afterlife: The Novel after 1989’, The Cambridge Companion to the Postcolonial Novel, ed. Ato Quayson, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
‘The Subaltern After Subaltern Studies: Genealogies and Transformations’ South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2015
‘The World Novel, Mediated Wars and Exorbitant Witnessing,’ Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, 1:1, 2014.
‘Dalit Life-Stories’, The Cambridge Companion to Modern Indian Culture, ed. Vasudha Dalmia, Cambridge University Press, 2012
‘Frontiers of Life and Death: The Human, New Wars and World Literary Sensibilities’, What was the Human? Ed. Liam Semler, Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing.
‘Deathworlds, The World Novel and the Human’, Angelaki, Vol. 16, No. 4, 2011
‘The Language Question in India’, The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature, ed. Ato Quayson, Cambridge University Press, 2011
‘Orbits of Desire: Bollywood as Creative Industry’, Bollywood in Australia ed. Andrew Hassam, Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 2010
‘Pain, Personhood and the Collective: Dalit Lifestories’, Asian Studies Review, Vol. 43, No. 4, 2009 
‘Literary Globalism in the New Millennium’, Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, March 2008
‘Global Literary Refractions: Reading Pascale Casanova’s The World Republic of Letters’, English Academy Review, Vol. 25, No. 1 June 2008.
‘From Empire to Empire: Writing the Transnational Anglo-Indian Self in Australia’, Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol. 28, No 1, 2007
‘Edward Said, World Literature and Global Comparatism’, in Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual, eds. Ned Curthoys and Debjani Ganguly, Melbourne University Press, 2007.
‘Buddha, Bhakti and Superstition: A Post-Secular Reading of Dalit Conversion,’ Postcolonial Studies, April 2004, Vol. 7, No.1, 2004