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Graduate Faculty

Urmila SeshagiriUrmila Seshagiri

Associate Professor

317 McClung Tower


Professor Seshagiri is writing a book about the complex legacy of modernist aesthetics in contemporary literature and culture, provisionally titled Still Shocking: Modernism and Fiction in the 21st Century. She is also preparing the first scholarly edition of Virginia Woolf’s memoir Sketch of the Past for Cornell University Press. This project has received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, an American Philosophical Society Franklin Grant, a New York Public Library Fellowship, and a Smith College Mortimer Fellowship. Her research has also been supported by fellowships and grants from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, the National Humanities Center, and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. She is the recipient of the Modern Fiction Studies Margaret Church Award for her work on Virginia Woolf. At the University of Tennessee, she has been a Provost’s Faculty Fellow and has received, among other awards, Chancellor’s Awards for Research and Professional Development.

Professor Seshagiri teaches undergraduate courses on modernism, postcolonial literature and cinema, international fiction, women writers, and Asian American literature. Her 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. Professor 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.

In 2020, Urmila Seshagiri received the highest teaching honor in the College of Arts and Sciences, the James R. and Nell W. Cunningham Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2015, she received a National Endowment of the Humanities Enduring Questions Grant to develop a course called “What is Duty?” for the University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Honors Program. From 2009-2011, she held the English Department’s Carroll Distinguished Teaching Chair. 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