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

Debjani Ganguly

Professor, English


Debjani Ganguly is Professor of English and Director of the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures at the University of Virginia. She works in the fields of world literature, postcolonial studies and South Asian studies. Her research interests include novel studies, theories of world literature, global Anglophone literatures, technologies of war and violence, literature and human rights, planetary humanities, caste and dalit studies, and Indian Ocean literary worlds. She is the author of This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form (Duke 2016) and Caste, Colonialism and Counter-Modernity (Routledge 2005), and the general editor of The Cambridge History of World Literature (2 vols. forthcoming 2021). She is also the general editor of the CUP book series Cambridge Studies in World Literature. Her other books include Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual (ed. 2007) and Rethinking Gandhi and Nonviolent Relationality: Global Perspectives (ed. 2007). Her published work has appeared in journals such as New Literary History, Postcolonial Studies, Interventions, Asian Studies Review, South Asia, Angelaki, and the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry.

She is currently working on a monograph provisionally called Catastrophic Form and Planetary Realism. This project explores the constellation of posthuman life forms in contemporary novels in our era of technogenic and biogenetic capitalism, and anthropogenic climate change. Four iconic contemporary scenarios of catastrophe feature in this study: drone warfare, viral pandemics, nuclear accidents, and climate change. Catastrophe is conceived in the language of existential risk rather than as an apocalyptic, end-of-the-world occurrence. The larger horizon of this research lies in the emergence of a vibrant interdisciplinary discourse that tracks the ways in which biological, technogenic and geological understandings of human beings relate to notions of political belonging, social justice, and human flourishing.

Debjani has held visiting fellowships at the University of Chicago, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2015, she served as seminar faculty at the Harvard Institute for World Literature. She is a Life Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and a member on the advisory boards of the Harvard Institute for World Literature, the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), and the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory (Bologna). Prior to her arrival in Virginia, Debjani directed the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra. An Australian citizen, she completed her doctoral work at ANU in 2002, and served as tenured faculty in the Department of English at ANU until 2015.