Areas of Interest & Expertise
Narrative Theory, Health Humanities, English Romantic Literature, Popular Culture, Pedagogy and Literature
I received my MPhil and PhD in English Studies from the University of Hyderabad. My doctoral research lies at the intersection of Literature and the Health Humanities and as such, focuses on questions of narrative and identity in the context of illness experience. As part of exploring connections between the story of a disease event in individuals and societies and a cultural transaction in meaning that occurs via its reception, I have worked on a range of media texts and forms but those of special interest remain the memoir, medical documentary and comics and graphic narrative. I am particularly interested in new kinds of voices and identities that emerge when we pay attention to healthcare as a site of storytelling. Before joining the University, I taught literature at Christ University, Bengaluru.
I have published essays on the representation of the ailing celebrity body in contemporary media, questions of agency in fictional representations of the grotesque body, the epidemiological fiction of Octavia Butler, the emerging canon of physician-writers and epidemics in contemporary Hollywood. My recent work has focused on the medium of graphic novels and the perspective of caregivers with close attention to rights, precarity and gender as it emerges through narrative.
I am interested in developing sites of engagement for students and teachers in India in English Literature and in emerging fields like the Health Humanities which have a stronger presence in American and European contexts. Towards this, I have completed a manuscript for Orient BlackSwan’s Literary Contexts series which aims to provide accessible introductions to teaching and learning key periods in English writing. I have also participated in and conducted workshops on methods of teaching and studying cultural representations of illness and its medical management with a specific focus on the role of literary-cultural studies.
Texts ranging from the years before and after Independence to the India of the 21st century.
Looking at the eighteenth century in English writing, known as Romanticism.
‘I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.’
– Oscar Wilde
Publications and Writings
- Sundaram, Neeraja. (2011). You’ve Been Hit by A Smooth Liminal: Framing Michael Jackson’s Ailing Celebrity Body. Gnovis: Georgetown University’s Peer-Reviewed Journal of Communication, Culture and Technology, 11 (2). https://gnovisjournal.georgetown.edu/journal/youve-been-hit-by-a-smooth-liminal-framing-michael-jacksons-ailing-celebrity-body/#
- Sundaram, Neeraja. (2011). From Contamination to Community: Octavia Butler’s Clay’s Ark. Excursions, 2 (1). https://excursions-journal.sussex.ac.uk/index.php/excursions/issue/view/virus
- Sundaram, Neeraja. (2012). Imagining Bio-Disaster, Reproducing Social Order: Epidemics in Contemporary Hollywood. Journal of Creative Communications’ special issue on “Disaster Communications: Media, Crisis and Representation”, 7 (1−2), 135 – 151. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0973258613501065
- Sundaram, Neeraja. (2013). The Dialectics of Visibility: Locating AIDS and the Big ‘H’ in My Brother Nikhil and My Own Country. Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, 32. http://intersections.añu.edu.au/issue32/sundaram.htm
- Sundaram, Neeraja. (2016) Performing the Pathologized Body as a Spectacle of Excess: Reading the Medical Documentaries of the Films Division, India, Studies in South Asian Film and Media, 8 (1), 3 – 25. https://doi.org/10.1386/safm.8.1.3_1
- Sundaram, Neeraja. (2016) Professional Cosmopolitanism in the Medical Bildungsroman: Narrating the Global Relevance of the Doctor’s Local Practice in Abraham Verghese’s My Own Country and Atul Gawande’s Complications”. Postcolonial Text, 11 (3). http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/article/view/1957.
- Sundaram, Neeraja. (2019) “Human Rights and the Medical Care Narrative”, Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, 11 (1), 80 — 89. https://rupkatha.com/v11n110/
- Sundaram, Neeraja. (2013) “Doctor-Writers and Their Literary Inheritance: A Review of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer”, Ravenshaw Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies, 3, 124 – 132.
- Sundaram, Neeraja. (2018) “Book Review of Breaking the Silo: Integrated Science Education in India”, Dialogue: Science, Scientists and Society. http://dialogue.ias.ac.in/article/14440/breaking-the-silo-integrated-science-education-in-india
Sept 16th, 2020: Podcast episode introducing the study of narrative in cultural representations of illness experience and treatment as part of the Literature and Disease podcast series organized by the Department of English, University of Hyderabad. https://herald.uohyd.ac.in/literature-disease-narrating-disease-and-illness/
Completed a manuscript titled English Romantic Literature, part of Orient BlackSwan’s Literary Contexts series that provides an accessible survey of socio-cultural contexts for writing produced in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in England.