University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Deborah Baker, Reading & Conversation (with Sangeeta Ray, U of Maryland)

April 12, 2019

Deborah Baker was born in Charlottesville and grew up in Virginia, Puerto Rico and New England.  She attended the University of Virginia and Cambridge University.  Her first biography, written in college, was Making a Farm: The Life of Robert Bly, published by Beacon Press in 1982. After working a number of years as a book editor and publisher, in 1990 she moved to Calcutta where she wrote In Extremis; The Life of Laura Riding.  Published by Grove Press and Hamish Hamilton in the UK, it was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography in 1994.  Her third book, A Blue Hand: The Beats in India was published by Penguin Press USA and Penguin India in 2008. In 2008–2009 she was a Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis C. Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars at The New York Public Library.  There she researched and wrote The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism, a narrative account of the life of an American convert to Islam, drawn on letters on deposit in the library’s manuscript division. The Convert, published by Graywolf and Penguin India, was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award in Non-Fiction. In August 2018, she published her fifth work of non-fiction, The Last Englishmen: Love, War and the End of Empire.


Professor Sangeeta Ray (University of Maryland) received her PhD from the University of Washington. She is professor of English and Comparative Literature. She teaches anglophone postcolonial and world literature, US minority literature and environmental literature. She is currently interested in postcolonial reading practices and the relationship between aesthetics, ethics and politics in literature from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. She is also interested in genre and form. She has published two books, Engendering India: Woman and Nation in Colonial and Postcolonial Narratives (Duke UP 2000) and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: In other Words (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). She has coedited the Companion To Postcolonial Studies (Blackwell, 2000) and the 3 volume Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016). Her book, Reading  for Form is forthcoming. She has published widely in key journals, given many talks nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of several grants and serves on the editorial boards of important journals in the field. She has served as President of a few divisions in the MLA, has been the President of the Cultural Studies Association and currently is serving a second term  on the supervisory Board of the English Institiute. She is second Vice-President of ACLA and currnly serving atwo year term as  amember of the MLA Russsell Lowe Prize (108-2020). At the University she has, in the past, been the Director of the Asian American Studies Certificate Program, Director of the Cultures of the Americas, College Park Scholars Program as well as the Director of Graduate Studies in the English department. 

Homer Statue
Wilson Hall 142
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM