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Swarnalatha R


Room No.: HSB 332C
Phone : +91 (44) 2257 4519
Email : swarna@iitm.ac.in




  • Professor – Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras from 2015 till present
  • Associate Professor- Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras from June 2010 to 2015
  • Assistant Professor- Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras from December 2005 to June 2010
  • Lecturer – Languages Group, BITS Pilani from March 2004 to December 2005.
  • Lecturer in English in D.G.Vaishnav College from July 2001 March 2004.

Academic Background:

  • Ph.D (English) from University of Madras, 2002
  • M.Phil (English) from University of Madras, 1993
  • M.A. (English) from University of Madras, 1992
  • Fulbright Scholar at Harvard University, 1999-2000

Research Interests:

  • Ecocriticism
  • American Literature


  • Literature and Life, Literature and Values, Literature and the Environment, Advanced English, English for Communication, Chaucer, Milton and the Bible, Shakespeare, Literature of Environmental Justice

Fellowships and Grants:

  • Fulbright Pre-doctoral Fellowship to Harvard University (199-2000) University Grants Commission (Senior Research Fellowship (1995-2000)
  • Winner of the 2000 Thomas Wolfe International Student Essay Prize.
  • Selected for the fellowship grant by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study for the research project “Women Writing Nature” (June 2010)
  • Research project on “The Role of Religious texts in forging an Ecological Self” funded by IC&SR IIT Madras, 2006. IUC fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla (2011- 2013).
  • Charles Wallace Fellowship to Cambridge University (2013)
  • ASLE (Association for Studies in Literature and the Environment) Translation Award with Sreejith Varma (2015)
  • Exploratory Research Project grant from IIT Madras on Investigating Gynocritics: Interviews with Contemporary Women Writers from Tamil Nadu with Prof.K.Srilata (2016)

Publications (Academic):

  1. Atma Vidya’-Ben’s Upanishadic Gospel of the Self in Look Homeward, Angel”. The Thomas Wolfe Review, Vol.24.1. Spring 2000: 16-19
  2. “Wolfe and the Nature of Maya”. The Thomas Wolfe Review, Vol 24.2. Fall 2000: 52-53.
  3. “Through Imagination’s Third Eye: The Creative Seer in Thomas Wolfe’s Passage to England”. The Thomas Wolfe Review, Vol 25, Nos.1&2, 2001: 3-11.
  4. “To Start at Ground Level: Hubris and Redemption in J M Coetzee’s Disgrace.” The Icfai Journal of English Studies, Vol 1. No 4, 2006: 87-93.
  5. “The Community and its poetry are not two”: A Buddhist Reading of Gary Snyder’s Ecopoetics” Atlantic Critical Review, Volume 7 Number 4 October 2008.
  6. “Abandoning to Integrate: Integral Consciousness in Pico Iyer’s Abandon.” JSL(The Journal of the School of Language, Literature Culture Studies) November 2009.
  7. “Identity as Process: Tibetan Diasporic Consciousness in Tsering Namgyal’s Little Lhasa.” Seva Bharati Journal of English Studies Vol. 5 February 2009.
  8. “Madhu-Vidya: The Holocoenotic Vision of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.” The Trumpeter Volume 24, Number 2 (2008).
  9. “Ecofeminist Retellings of the Ramayana.” In The Bulletin Quarterly of the Chennai Academy for Science, Humanities and Religion. Vol 2. No.3, November 2009.
  10. “The Mandalic Consciousness: Sri Chakra as Psychocosmogram” The Trumpeter Volume 25, Number 1 (2009).
  11. “Forest discourses by women: Earth-centric retellings of the Ramayana.” (to be published in the forthcoming issue of Jeevadhara, The International Theological Review.)
  12. “Gestalt ontology as planetary culture in Terry Tempest William’s Finding Beauty in a Broken World.” (co-authored with Vidya Sarveswaran in JUES (Jadavpur University Essays and Studies) Vol.23, 2009.
  13. ” A Perspective of Engagement: An Ecological Reconnaisance into the Garden of Earthly in Terry Tempest Williams’ Leap.” (co-authored with Vidya Sarveswaran in JSL, Spring 2009.
  14. “The Open Space of Democracy- Partnership Ethics in Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge.”(co-authored with Vidya Sarveswaran in Scholastic International Research Journal of Language and Literature, Spring 2009.)
  15. 15. “Ecological Dimensions of the Ramayana: A Conversation with Paula Richman.” The Trumpeter Vol 25:1 (2009): 22-33.
  16. “Ground Truthing – A Study of Ecological Scapes in Terry Tempest Williams’s in An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field (co-authored with Vidya Sarveswaran forthcoming in Literary Insight : A Journal of Literature.
  17. “Towards and Earth Sangha: A Conversation with John Seed.” The Indian Journal of Ecocriticism (2010): 22-29.
  18. “A text for Nothingness: The Beckettian Predicament in Krishna Baldev Vaid’s Dying Alone” forthcoming in Literary Insight : A Journal of Literature.
  19. “Writing the Subaltern into Being: Tribals and Nature in Mahasweta Devi’s Pterodactyl (Co-authored with Anu Asokan in Contemporary Research in India, Vol.1, June 2011): 4-10.
  20. “Writing an Era of Tribal Repression: Mahasweta Devi’s Chotti Munda and his Arrow” (Co-authored with Anu Asokan in Thematics Journal of Indian Literature, Vol.1. Issue 4. December 2011): 32-37.
  21. “In Andal’s Garden: The Ecological Implications of Earth-based Religiosity.” in the Special Ecocriticism Issue of The Ravenshaw Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies. Issue Editor: Scott Slovic (January 2014) Invited Essay.
  22. “Ecocriticism of the Global South: Environmental Justice Perspectives from India.” In the Special Ecocriticism Issue of Critical Imprints- the peer-reviewed journal of the English Department of Loreto College, Kolkata. (January 2014). Invited Essay.
  23. “The Meaning of All Things: The Green Hermenuetic of Rumi’s Masnavi” (co- authored with Baasma Parvi) in The Ravenshaw Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies, Volume V( 2015):100-117.
  24. “Eco-ability and the Corporeal Grotesque: An Analysis of Environmental Toxicity in Cherríe Moraga’s Heroes and Saints and Ambikasutan Mangad’s Swarga (co-authored with Lakshmi Chitra Dilipkumar) in Studies in the Humanities (journal of the Indiana University of Pennysylvania) (2019). Forthcoming.

Book Chapters (Peer-reviewed):

  1. “Writing as Mukti: The Story of Draupadi, the Subaltern who Speaks.” Book Chapter in Voices of the Voiceless: Perspectives on Subaltern Literatures. Ed. Francis Peter Chennai: ACE-Loyola, 2003. 87-94.
  2. “Ambiguous Divinity in Manil Suri’s The Death of Vishnu.” Book Chapter in Indian Writings in English. Edited by Binod Mishra and Sanjay Kumar. Published by Atlantic Books, 2006. Delhi: Atlantic, 2006. 177-197.
  3. “Nature as Third Space: A Study of Perumal Murugan’s Seasons of the Palm.” Book Chapter in Literature, Ecology and Meaning. New Delhi: BR Publishers, 2008.
  4. “Becoming the “Transparent Eye-Ball”: Ecodharma in American Transcendentalist Writing.” Book Chapter in Essays in Ecocriticism. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2007. 114-125.
  5. “Engaging with Prakriti: A Survey of Ecocritical Praxis in India.” Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism. Ed.Greg Garrard. OUP. (2014) Invited Essay.
  6. “Sacramental Commons and Female Agency: Oiko-Xicanisma in Ana Castillo’s So Far From God.” Book Chapter in Environmental Crisis and Human Costs. Eds. Ufuk Ozdag and Francois Gavillon. CLYMA Series, Benjamin Franklin American Studies Research Institute. (Forthcoming 2014)
  7. “Women writing Nature in the Global South: Perspectives from India.” Book Chapter in Handbook of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology. Ed. Hubert Zapf. Pub. Walter De Gruyter. (2016). Invited Essay. Peer-reviewed.
  8. “The Possibilities of a River and a Ritual Dance.An Ethnographic analysis of Kuttan Vayali’s Bhagavathy Aatu.” Co-authored essay with Sreejith Varma in Ecodocumentaries: Critical Essays Ed. Rayson Alex and Susan Deborah, Palgrave Macmillan, UK (2017).
  9. “The Politics of Land, Water and Toxins: Reading the Life-narratives of ThreeWomen Oikos-carers from Kerala.” Co-authored article with Sreejith Varma in Women and Nature? Beyond Dualism in Gender, Body, and Environment. Ed. Douglas A.Vakoch and Sam Mickey. Lexington Press, USA (2017).
  10. “Encountering the City and the Forest in C. N. Sreekantan 
Nair’s Kanchana Sita.” Co-authored essay with Anchitha Krishna in Ecocultural Ethics Ed. Rayson Alex et al. Lexington Press, USA (2017).
  11. “Re-membering the Coyolxauhqui: Conocimiento as Environmental activism Ana Castillo’s So Far from God and Helena Maria Viramontes’s  Under the Feet of Jesus.”  Co-authored essay with Lakshmi Chitra Dilipkumar in Green Critique to be publishedby Rowman and Littlefield in 2019.


  1. Edited and compiled a book titled The Philosophy of Education. Published by TR Publications, 2009.
  2. Ecoambiguity, Community and Development:Toward a Politicized Ecocriticism. Book project in collaboration with Prof. Scott Slovic, University of Nevada and Dr.Vidya Sarveswaran, IIT Rajasthan. Publisher: Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield. (2014).
  3. Ecocriticism of the GlobalSouth. Book project in collaboration with Prof. Scott Slovic, University of Nevada and Dr.Vidya Sarveswaran, IIT Rajasthan. Publisher: Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield. (2015).
  4. Ecocriticism: Big Ideas and Practical Strategies. Orient Blackswan (2018)
  5. Mayilamma: The Life of a Tribal Eco-Warrior. Co-translated book with Sreejith Varma. Orient Blackswan (2018)
  6. Lifescapes: Interviews with Contemporary Women Writers from Tamil Nadu. Co-authored book with K.Srilata. Published by Women Unlimited (formerly Kali for Women), 2019.
  7. The Routledge Handbook of Ecocriticism and Environmental Communication.Co-edited book with with Prof. Scott Slovic, University of Nevada and Dr.Vidya Sarveswaran, IIT Rajasthan. Forthcoming.

Other Academic Publications: Reviews

  1. Review of Nature Ethics: An Ecofeminist Perspective by Marti Kheel. Published in ISLE (Interdisciplinary Studies In Literature and Environment, University of Nevada) Vol.16: 4 (2009): 880-881.
  2. “Of Poems Composed in Octopus Ink.” Review of “Writing Octopus” in Kavya Bharati No (25): 2013, 224-226.


Editorial Positions

  1. Founding Editor of The Indian Journal of Ecocriticism (IJE) (A Peer- reviewed International Journal of OSLE- India (now Tinai), Indian partner of ASLE –US. Edited three issues IJE 2009, IJE 2010 and IJE 2011
  2. Guest Editor of the International Environmental journal from Canada, The Trumpeter (published by the Athabasca University Press) for two special issues with a focus on Indian ecosophy. Number 25.1 (2009) and Number 25. 2(2009) Website: http://trumpeter.athabascau.ca/index.php/trumpet
  3. Editorial Advisory Boards 
Editorial Board Member of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (an OUP journal) is the prime journal in ecocriticism, the official journal of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE).
Editorial Board Member of Scholastic International Research Journal of Language and Literature Editorial Board Member of the Ravenshaw Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies
  5. Commissioning editor of the New series  – Routledge Studies in World Literatures and the Environment
  6. Member of the Advisory Board of Loyola College’s International ,double blind peer reviewed multidisciplinary research journal – LEAF

Creative Writing (Peer-Reviewed)

  1. Short story titled, “Through the Eye of the Needle” in the collection titled, 21 under 40: New Stories for a New Generation, Edited by Anita Roy, Zubaan Books, 2007.
  2. Short fiction titled “The Flowing Mirror” in the South Asian Review (Peer- reviewed journal from the University of Pittsburgh) Vol. 28, No.3, 2007.
  3. Short fiction titled “Hiranmayi” in Penguin First Proof (2009)
4.Short fiction titled “Speaking in Many Tongues.” published in Chicken Soup for the Indian Spiritual Soul, Westland, 2009.
  4. Co-editor. Katha book of E-poetry with K.Srilata and Sudeep Sen, 2010.
  5. Short fiction titled “ Sita’s Hypothesis” published in the www.asiawrites.org on July 15, 2011 6.
  6. Short fiction titled “ Koan” finalist in the Katha Prize Contest published in India Currents, February 2012.
  7. Short fiction titled “In the forests of Himmapan” In New Asian Writing, May 2012. 8. Short fiction titled “Green Burial” in the ASLE India Newletter, June 2013.
  8. Poem titled “Forgetting to Exhale” in Muse India, Issue 55 May-June 2014.
  9. Final Instructions. Novel. Published by Authorspress (India) and WordTree (USA) in 2015.
  10. “Once upon a time in the City”, “The in-betweenness of all things”, “Across the street” in All the Worlds Between Edited by K.Srilata and Fiona Bolger. Yoda Press (2017).

Research Guindance:

Ph.D. Guidance:

  1. Vidya Sarveswaran – Degree awarded in 2011. Research Area: Ecocriticism
    Title of thesis: The Integrated Mosaic: An Ecocritical Study of the writings of Terry Tempest Williams
  2. Anu Asokan – Degree awarded in 2015. Research Area: Ecocriticism
    Title of Thesis: Environmentalism of the poor: An Ecocritical Analysis of the works of Mahasweta Devi
  3. Sreejith Varma – Degree awarded in 2018. Research Area: Ecocriticism
    Title of Thesis: Environmentalism from Down Under: An Ecocritical Reading of Contemporary Environmental Justice Narratives from Kerala.
  4. Anchitha Krishna Research Area: Ecocriticism
  5. Lakshmi Chitra Research Area: Ecocriticism

M.A Project Guidance

  1. Aparna Jain – 2012 Research Area: American Literature and Ecocriticism
  2. Prakruti Ramesh – 2013 Research Area: Ecocriticism
  3. Baasma Parvi – 2014 Research Area: Ecocriticism
  4. Siddharth Srikant – 2014  Research Area: Narratology and ethics of reading
  5. Evelyn Tanza Anthony- 2015 Research Area: Ecocriticism
  6. Vanya Rachel – 2015 Research Area: Ecocriticism
  7. J.Bhargavi- 2016 Research Area: Ecofeminism
  8. Vineeta Minz- 2018 Research Area: Ecotheology

Significant Conferences:

  • Invited Speaker: “Writing the Anthropocene: Engendering Ecological Consciousness in English and Telugu Literatures.” An International Ecocriticism Conference to be held in Adikavi Nannaya University, 18-20th February, 2019.
  • Plenary Speaker: 10th Malaysia International Conference on Languages, Literatures and Cultures held in Malaysia from 14/08/2018 to 16/08/2018
  • Invited Speaker and Resource Person: Inaugural conference on Literature and Environment in Bangladesh organized by the Edward Kennedy Centre held in the University of Dhaka in August 2015.
  • Key Speaker. The Seetha Udupa Endowment Lecture, Ethiraj College, on “The Eco- Ontological Literary Impulse,” 8 February 2015.
  • Invited Speaker. “Theory after Theory: Uses, Crises and New Directions” – A workshop organized by Forum on Contemporary Theory, Baroda and Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras, 26-28 September, 2014.
  • Invited Speaker and Resource Person: National Conference on “Rethinking Nature: The Relevance of Contemporary Green Studies” organized by the Department of English, Ravenshaw University(12-13 January 2013)
  • Plenary Speaker: International Conference –Cum-Workshop on Cross-Cultural Communication: India and the US. Organised by the Adikavi Nannaya University and US Consulate General Hyderabad (13th-15th February 2012).
  • Invited Speaker: Conference on Unfolding Indigenous Knowledge Systems – Arts, Humanities and the Social Sciences held at the Asian Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies, Chennai during August 23-24, 2012. Invited Speaker. National Conference on Eco- economic and Ecocritical Issues held at St. Joseph’s College, Trichy, 5-6 March 2010.
  • Plenary Speaker: Fifth Tamkang International Conference on Ecocriticism held in Tamkang University, Taiwan during December 16-18, 2010 Invited Speaker: Translation Workshop at the Library of Tibetan Works
  • and Archives (The Govt. of Tibet in Exile at Dharamsala) on 21st July 2007.
  • Invited Speaker. Workshop on Research Methodology conducted by Asian Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies, Chennai, 17th November, 2012. Invited Speaker: National Seminar on Solidarity amidst Cultural Diversity in World Literature conducted by the Research Department of English, Nirmala College for Women and Asian Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies to be held on 12th and 13th March 2012.
  • Invited Speaker: Workshop on Research Methodology conducted by Asian Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies, Chennai, 14th-16th November 2011
  • Invited Speaker: National Conference on Eco-Economic and Ecocritical issues, St.Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli on 5th and 6th March 2010

Significant Paper Presentations:

  1. 1.“Nature as Sutra: Eco-dharma in Gary Snyder’s Mountains and Rivers Without End.”  At the 7th SSEASR International Conference in Vitenam, July 9-12, 2017.
  2. “Our dungy earth alike feeds beast and man. The Excremental Topography of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.” At the 7th Annual International Conference on Literature, Athens Institute for Education and Research, 9-14 June 2014, Athens, Greece
  3. “Ecocriticism of the Global South” at The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Cambridge University, November 2013.
  4. “Fissured Lands within Ecocritical Frameworks” at the International Conference on Expanding Horizons in English Language and Literary Studies (ELLS2011) held on October 18-20, 2011 by the Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
  5. “The Ecological Implication of Bhakti poetry.”at the Inter University Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences, IIAS, Shimla, 14th July 2011.
  6. “The Mandalic Consciousness” at the 2009 Parliament of World’s Religions held at Melbourne during 3-9 December 2009.
  7. “Ecofeminist Retellings of the Ramayana” at the National Conference on “Natural Resources: A Multi-religious Approach” at the Asian Centre for Cross-Cultural Studies, 14-16 October 2009.
  8. “ Srichakra as Cosmogram” at the III International Conference of Organisation for Studies in Literature and Environment- India, January 4- 5th, 2008 at St.Ann’s College for Women, Hyderabad.
  9. “MadhuVidya: The Holistic Vision of Bhrahadaranyaka Upanishad” at the II International Conference of Organisation for Studies in Literature and Environment-India at Acharya Institute of Management and Sciences, Bangalore on June 8 and 9, 2007.
  10. “The Buddhist ecopoetics of Gary Snyder” presented at the MELUS- MELOW International Conference, “Literature in Times of Violence” held at the Department of English, Panjab University, Chandigarh, 22-24 March, 2007.
  11. 10.“Becoming the Transparent Eyeball…” in the International Conference on Ecology and Culture: Interdisciplinary Approaches held at Loyola College, on September 18 and 19, 2006.
  12. “An Ecocritical Approach to Perumal Murugan’s Seasons of the Palm.” in the International ASLE-India conference on “Nature and Human Nature: Land, Landscape and Cultural Constructions of the Environment”, Pondicherry University, 21-23 September 2006.
  13. Paper titled “An Ecocritical reading of J.M.Coetzee’s Disgrace” presented in the III World Conference and XI All India English Teachers’ Annual Conference on “Literature and Environment” held at Madras Christian College on 20th and 21st December.

Special Lectures delivered:

  • The Saranathan Endowment Lecture, National College, Trichy, March 2016.
  • The Seetha Udupa Endowment Lecture, Ethiraj College, on “The Eco- Ontological Literary Impulse,” 8 February 2015.
  • Special lecture on Ecofeminism at Sathya Nilayam, Loyola College on October 1, 2014
  • Special lecture on “Postmodernism and Ecology” at Sathya Nilayam, Loyola College on December 4, 2014
  • Special lecture on “Literature and the Environment” at Bharathi Women’s College, August 2012.
  • The Reflections talk at IIT Madras on “The Navarasas in Literature” May 2007.
  • Conferences Co-ordinated at IIT Madras: Co-ordinated a National Seminar titled “After Globalisation” with other colleagues in the department in December 2006.

Institute/Departmental contributions:

  1. Served on the HSEE exam committee (paper setting and correction) for four years
  2. Served on the Institute’s Disciplinary Committee
  3. Served as co-coordinator (examinations-in-charge) for three consecutive years
  4. Served as the Department’s Library in-charge
  5. Served on the Institute’s Time-table committee
  6. Co-coordinated the Zero level English course
  7. Served as the co-coordinator of the MA Project Review Committee for two years
  8. Served on various other departmental scrutiny committees like the Ph.D. interview committee, Faculty recruitment departmental screening committee and the Summer Internship committee.

Other contributions:

  • Served as Ph.D. examiner and conducted the Ph.D. viva voce for candidates from IIT Guwahati (2012) VIT Vellore (2013) University of Malaysia (2016) University of Calicut(2016) Bits-Pilani(2016) University of Madras(2017) University of Mumbai(2018)
  • Member, Syllabus Sub Committee, Faculty of Sciences and Humanities, Anna University
  • Member, Board of Studies of the School of Humanities, Tamil Nadu Open University

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