Ankhi Mukherjee

Professor of English and World Literatures and Tutorial Fellow


Research Interests

While her first monograph, Aesthetic Hysteria: The Great Neurosis in Victorian Melodrama and Contemporary Fiction (Routledge, 2007), drew largely on Victorian literature and culture, Ankhi’s second book, What Is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Canon (Stanford, 2013) asks how classics emanate from postcolonial histories and societies. Exploring definitive trends in twentieth- and twenty-first century English and Anglophone literature, she examines the relevance of the question of the classic for the global politics of identifying and perpetuating so-called core texts. Emergent canons are scrutinized in the context of the wider cultural phenomena of book prizes, the translation and distribution of world literatures, and multimedia adaptations of world classics. The book's ambitious historical schema includes South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the West Indies, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and North America.

Ankhi’s third book, Unseen City: The Psychic Lives of the Urban Poor is an interdisciplinary study of the relationship between global cities, poverty, and psychoanalysis across three continents. An experimental work of literary and cultural criticism, it examines fictional representations of poverty in relation to each city's psychoanalytic and psychiatric culture. The causal relationship between precarity and mental illness is explored through clinical case studies, the product of extensive collaborations and knowledge-sharing with community psychotherapeutic initiatives in six global cities. Unseen City argues that a humanistic understanding of the lives of the dispossessed is key to an adapted psychoanalysis for the poor, and that seeking equity of the psychoanalytic unconscious is key to poverty alleviation. It was published by Cambridge University Press in 2021.

Ankhi has co-edited, with Laura Marcus, a Blackwell Concise Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture (2014), which showcases new work by leading critics in the field of literary psychoanalysis, and edited After Lacan, a collection of essays on the intellectual and cultural legacies of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (2018). She is co-editing with Ato Quayson (Stanford University) a collaborative volume titled Decolonizing the English Literary Curriculum, which will be published by Cambridge UP with an initial run of 25,000 copies. She is also under contract to write the OUP Very Short Introduction to Postcolonial Literature.


Ankhi’s primary teaching areas are Victorian and Modern (British and Anglophone) literature; critical theory and intellectual history, particularly the history of psychology and psychoanalysis; and postcolonial and world literatures. At the graduate level, she teaches on the MSt in English (1900-present) as well as the MSt in World Literatures in English. She has supervised seventeen doctoral students to date on a wide range of topics including Victorian women's travelogues on Meiji Japan; the aesthetics of hunger in Beckett, Auster, and Coetzee; partition narratives from South Asia and the Middle East; representations of disability in the postcolonial Anglophone novel; the vegan literary canon; V. S. Naipaul in the Caribbean intellectual context; literature and neuroscience in contemporary fiction.


Ankhi was Deputy Chair of Moderations in English Language and Literature from 2011-12 and Chair of Preliminary Examinations from 2012-13.

Ankhi's research project, "The Psychic Life of the Poor: A City Unseen in Mumbai, London, and New York," has been the recipient of four grants: an AHRC Leadership Fellows Grant, a Wellcome Trust and two John Fell Fund travel grants. More information about this project can be found here.

Ankhi is on the editorial board of leading peer-reviewed journals such as English Literary History, Contemporary Literature, Paragraph, and Women: A Cultural Review. She is an Associate Editor of The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry.

She was a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre, The Australian National University, in 2014, and John Hinkley (Visiting) Professor at Johns Hopkins University (Spring 2019). Ankhi is one of 150 academics chosen to share their pioneering research on a new educational website and app titled "EXPeditions." In a trio of short videos, she talks about psychoanalysis at the intersection of race, migrancy, and poverty in global cities, the subject of her book, Unseen City. The three EXPs can be accessed on Ankhi’s personal page on the website:

Other Websites

Selected Publications


Unseen City: The Psychic Lives of the Urban Poor (Cambridge University Press, 2021)

What is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Canon (Stanford University Press, 2014). Winner of the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for English Literature.

Aesthetic Hysteria: The Great Neurosis in Victorian Melodrama and Contemporary Fiction (Routledge, 2007).

Editor, After Lacan (Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Editor (with Laura Marcus), A Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture (Blackwell Publishers, 2014).

ARTICLES (selected)

“Psychoanalysis of the Excommunicated,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies (forthcoming, 2022)

“On Antigone’s Suffering,” Special Issue “On Suffering,” The Cambridge Journal of

Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 8.2 (April 2021)

“To Write Like a Dream: Nineteenth-Century Legacies,” Special Issue “Theories of

the Nineteenth Century” ed. Anna Kornbluh and Zach Samalin, Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 61.4 (Fall 2019)

"Creole Modernism." Affirmations: Of the Modern. 2.1 (December 2014)

“‘This Traffic of Influence’: Derrida and Spivak,” Special Issue “Gayatri Spivak: Postcolonial and Other Pedagogies,” Parallax 60 (Summer 2011)

“‘What is a Classic?’: International Literary Criticism and the Classic Question,” Special Topic “Literary Criticism for the Twenty-first Century,” ed. Cathy Caruth and Jonathan Culler, PMLA 125.4 (October 2010)

“The Death of the Novel and Two Postcolonial Writers,” special issue “Influence” ed. Andrew Elfenbein, Modern Language Quarterly 69.4 (December 2008)

“Fissured Skin, Inner Ear Radio, and a Telepathic Nose: The Senses as Media in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children,” Paragraph 29:6 (November 2006)

“Missed Encounters: Repetition, Rewriting, and Contemporary Returns to Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations,” Contemporary Literature 46:1 (Spring 2005)

“Stammering to Story: Neurosis and Narration in Pat Barker’s Regeneration,” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 43 (Fall 2001)

BOOK CHAPTERS (selected):

“Aesthetic Criticism and the Postcolonial,” The Question of the Aesthetic ed. George Levine.

Oxford UP, 2022.

“The Anthology as the Canon of World Literature,” Cambridge History of World Literature

(2 volumes) ed. Debjani Ganguly, Cambridge UP, 2021.

"Affective Form." Affect. Ed. Alex Houen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

"Nautical Melodrama." The Cambridge Companion to English Melodrama. Ed. Carolyn Williams. Cambridge: CUP, 2018.

"Slums and the Postcolonial Uncanny." Planned Violence: Post/Colonial Urban Infrastructures, Literature and Culture. Ed. Elleke Boehmer et al. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

"Borderless Worlds?" Conflicting Humanities. Ed. Rosi Braidotti and Paul Gilroy. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.

"Primetime Psychoanalysis." A Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture. Ed. Laura Marcus and Ankhi Mukherjee. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2013.

“Race: Victorian Literature.” Oxford Bibliographies Online, 2012.

“The Rushdie Canon.” Salman Rushdie: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Ed. Robert Eaglestone and Martin McQuillan. London: Bloomsbury, 2012.