Ayesha Ramachandran

Ayesha Ramachandran's picture
Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
320 York St, New Haven, CT 06511 Room 337
+1 (203) 432-2745


I am a literary critic and cultural historian of early modern Europe. My recent work focuses on Europe’s relations with an expanding world—my first book, The Worldmakers (University of Chicago Press, 2015) charts transnational encounters and the early mechanisms of globalization from the late fifteenth to the early eighteenth centuries. It was awarded the MLA’s Scaglione prize in Comparative Literary Studies (2017), the Milton Society of America’s Shawcross Prize for the best book chapter on Milton (2016), and the Sixteenth Century Studies Association’s Founder’s Prize for the best first book manuscript (2015). Though I work primarily with the English, French, and Italian literary traditions, my interests extend to Portuguese, Spanish and Neo-Latin materials; with the support of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship (2016), I hope to expand my work into Persian and early modern South Asia. In addition to literary and intellectual historical questions, I am interested in early modern maps (particularly world mapping), the history of science and technology, early modern empires, and the rich visual archive of illustrated books in the period). My current book project, Lyric Thinking: Humanism, Selfhood, Modernity, argues for the central importance of lyric form and language in shaping new intellectual possibilities for the self in the early modern period and beyond. Moving from Petrarch to Descartes, while also considering their afterlives in modernist writing, it draws together scholarship on theories of mind, cognition and meditation with a complex literary history of lyric’s foundational encounters with other genres, particularly the epic.

My teaching ranges across the comparative literature curriculum: I have team taught in one of the department’s signature courses, LITR 120: Introduction to Narrative, where I lecture on Rushdie’s Satanic Verses; and regularly offer an interdisciplinary course on Maps and the Western Literary Imagination, taught at the Beinecke Library; courses on early modern skepticism, worldmaking and love lyric poetry; and most recently, a co-taught course with Marta Figlerowicz on Modernities: Selfhood, Race, Class and Gender. In Fall 2017, we will also co-teach a graduate seminar on recent theoretical shifts in the discipline entitled “What Happened to Race, Class, and Gender? Keywords of Recent Critical Theory.” In 2016, I was awarded a Poorvu Family Award for Interdisciplinary Teaching.


B.A. Smith College, 2001, magna cum laude
Ph.D. Yale, 2008

Research Interests

Early modern European literature and cultural history; Renaissance poetry; history of science and technology (sixteenth and seventeenth century); cartography and literature; early modern empires and international law; history of philosophy; Europe and the Indo-Islamic world.

Publication Highlights

For a full list of publications and full texts, please see my self-archived articles here.

The Worldmakers: Global Imagining in Early Modern Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, November 2015). [University of Chicago Press]

Spenser and the Human, A Special Issue of Spenser Studies, guest edited with Melissa Sanchez (AMS Press, 2016).

“How to Theorize the “World”: An Early Modern Manifesto,” NLH: New Literary History. Forthcoming.

“Cosmic Matters: Spenser, Donne and the Philosophic Poem,” in Spenser & Donne: Thinking Poets, ed. Yulia Ryzhik. Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming 2018

“Humanism and Its Discontents,” in Spenser and the Human, eds. Melissa Sanchez and Ayesha Ramachandran, Spenser Studies XXX (2016): 3–18

“Traductions cosmographiques dans les Essais de Montaigne,” in Illustrations inconscientes: écritures de la Renaissance. Melanges en l’honneur de Tom Conley, edited by Phillip Usher and Bernd Renner. Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014. Pp. 121-42. [Classiques Garnier]

 “A War of Worlds: Becoming “Early Modern” and the Challenge of Comparison,” in Comparative Early Modernities: 1100-1800, edited by David Porter. New York: Palgrave, 2012, 15-46. [Palgrave]

“Mutabilitie’s Lucretian Metaphysics: Skepticism and Cosmic Process in Spenser’s Cantos,” in Celebrating Mutabilitie: Essays on Edmund Spenser’s Mutabilitie Cantos, edited by Jane Grogan. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010, 220-45. [Manchester University Press]

“Edmund Spenser, Lucretian Neoplatonist: Cosmology in the Fowre Hymnes,” in Spenser and Platonism: An Expanded Special Volume, edited by Kenneth Borris, Carol Kaske and Jon Quitslund, Spenser Studies XXIV (2009): 373-411. (Awarded Isabel McCaffrey Prize, 2010) [Ingenta Connect]

Work in Progress

“Lyric Thinking: Humanism, Selfhood, Modernity” (book manuscript in progress)

“What Can We Learn from Renaissance Literary Critics?” (in conjunction with a Newberry Library Symposium on “Contexts of Early Modern Literary Criticism in Italy and Beyond”)

“Between Thought and Feeling: The Uses of Lyric in the Orlando Furioso,MLN Special Issue for Ariosto 500

Press and Additional Media

Ottoman History Podcast: Episode No. 223. Released: January 30, 2016. [Ottoman History Podcast Website]

The MacMillan Report, March 2016 [YouTube]

Current Projects

World Aesthetics Reading Group: worldaesthetics.yale.edu

Research Interests: 
Classical Literature
Critical Theory and Philosophy
Cultural History
English and Anglophone Literature
History of Science and Technology
Literary Theory
Romance Languages
Working Languages: