236 Reese Center
1209 University Dr
Areas of Expertise
- Early Modern English literature
- Disability studies
- Poetry and poetics
- World mountaineering literatures
- PhD, English Language and Literature, University of Michigan, 2018
- M.Phil, Renaissance English Literature, University of Cambridge, 2009
- MA, English Literature, Jadavpur University, 2006
- BA, English Literature, Jadavpur University, 2004
Amrita Dhar grew up in Calcutta, and studied at the universities of Jadavpur (India), Cambridge (UK), and Michigan (USA). Her research and teaching interests are in early modern literature, disability studies, the environmental humanities and the digital humanities. She is also a climber and mountaineer, and works and writes on world mountaineering literatures.
Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Milton Studies, postmedieval, The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, Radical Teacher, Shakespeare Bulletin, The Himalayan Journal, and various edited collections. Her work has been supported over the years by the University of Michigan‘s Rackham Graduate School, Department of English Language and Literature, and Institute for Research on Women and Gender; the Folger Shakespeare Library; the SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) project Early Modern Conversions; the Huntington Library; The Women’s Place at The Ohio State University; and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Her first monograph–whose manuscript is nearing completion–is entitled Milton’s Blind Language and studies the workings of blindness towards the making of John Milton’s poetic language in his years of approaching and complete loss of sight. This work examines Milton’s psalm translations in his years of going blind, his later sonnets and his last great poetic works, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. She is planning two other book-length projects. The first of these, Regarding Sight and Blindness in Early Modern English Literature: Crossings of Disability, Race, and Empire, traces attitudes towards sight and blindness in early modern English literature to examine the relationship between, first, the cultural production of disability, and second, the intertwined phenomena of early modern global contact, race-making, and anxieties over identity, migrancy, and belonging. Primary sources for this study include canonical and marginal plays, remarkable and unremarkable poetry, manuscript accounts of visual affliction and proposed remedies, medicinal and culinary recipes, religious tracts and broadside ballads. The second, A Social History of Indian Mountaineering, is an accessible account of Indian mountaineering, particularly Himalayan mountaineering, from its colonial “Golden Age” in the mid-twentieth century to the emerging models of the twenty-first. The social and historical investment of this work is in claiming space for mountaineers of the “non-traditional” kind—such as individuals at the intersections of less privileged genders, castes, social standing, financial reach, geography, age and physical ability—who have historically enlarged the scope of the sport, but are still the least credited for this work. She has spoken to The Alpinist Podcast about mountaineering histories and archives.
In spring 2021, she co-led a seminar for the Shakespeare Association of America Annual Meeting 2021. The seminar hosted a discussion between scholars, activists, writers, teachers, and theatre practitioners from over a dozen erstwhile colonial geographies about the stakes of reading, teaching, performing, and “doing” Shakespeare in the “post” colonies today. With her collaborator Amrita Sen (University of Calcutta), she is now working towards an edited volume following the work of this seminar. A connected project-in-progress is a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation that she is co-editing with Amrita Sen on the topic of “Shakespeare in Bengal.”
As a teacher, she is deeply invested in her students’ intellectual growth and general well-being. In 2019, she was nominated for a campus-wide Research Mentoring Award. In 2021, her students recognized her as a Buckeye Access All-Star.
- Dhar, Amrita. “Confessions of the Half-Caste, or Wheeling Strangers of Here and Everywhere,” postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies, vol. 11, no. 2, 2020, pp. 212-219
- Dhar, Amrita. “Travel and Mountains.” The Cambridge History of Travel Writing, edited by Nandini Das and Tim Youngs. Cambridge University Press, 2019, pp. 345-60.
- Dhar, Amrita. “Toward Blind Language: John Milton Writing, 1648-1656.” Milton Studies, vol. 60, no. 1-2, 2018, pp. 75-107.
- Dhar, Amrita. “Seeing Feelingly: Sight and Service in King Lear.” Disability, Health and Happiness in the Shakespearean Body, edited by Sujata Iyengar. Routledge, 2015, pp. 76-92.
- Dhar, Amrita. “Food and Literature of the Himalayan Heights.” The Writer’s Feast: Food and the Cultures of Representation, edited by Supriya Chaudhuri and Rimi B. Chatterjee. Orient BlackSwan, 2011, pp. 206-22.