Urmila Seshagiri

Associate Professor


Urmila Seshagiri specializes in twentieth-century British modernism. Her research areas include the English novel, postcolonial and transnational literature and culture, feminist studies, and contemporary fiction. The author of Race and the Modernist Imagination(Cornell University Press, 2010), Seshagiri is also the author of articles and reviews in Modern Fiction Studies, Modernism/modernity, Cultural Critique, Woolf Studies Annual, and The Journal of Asian American Studies. She is co-editor (with Rishona Zimring, Lewis and Clark College) of The Art of Exploration: Papers from the Fifteenth Annual International Virginia Woolf Conference (Literature Compass/Blackwell, 2007). She is currently writing a book about the complex legacy of modernist aesthetics in contemporary literature and culture.

Seshagiri has been a Fellow at the National Humanities Center Summer Institute for Literary Studies and has won the Modern Fiction Studies Margaret Church Award. She has also been the recipient of grants from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dean’s Fund. At the University of Tennessee, she has been a Provost’s Faculty Fellow and has received, among others, Chancellor’s Awards for Research and Professional Development.

Urmila Seshagiri teaches a variety of undergraduate courses on modernism, postcolonial literature and cinema, metropolitan literature, international fiction, women writers, and Asian American literature. Several of these courses are offered jointly with Global Studies, Cinema Studies, and Women’s Studies. Seshagiri’s graduate courses include research seminars on modernism and modernity, postcolonial theory, and the English novel in the 20th century; she also teaches seminars organized around themes such as the contemporary Bildungsroman or on individual authors such as Virginia Woolf and J.M. Coetzee. Seshagiri’s graduate students work on a wide range of topics: the London avant-garde, Bloomsbury modernism, literary monstrosity, immigrant narratives, and post-apartheid South African fiction.

From 2009-2011, Urmila Seshagiri held the Carroll Distinguished Teaching Chair in the English Department at the University of Tennessee. She is the recipient of the campus-wide Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the College of Arts and Sciences Junior Faculty Teaching Award, the Department of English Hodges Award for Teaching Excellence, and the Graduate Students in English Outstanding Teaching Award.



B.A., Oberlin College
M.A., Ph.D., University of Illinois