Faculty Biography

Premnath Gautam

Gautam Premnath


BA (Yale University), MA (University of Pittsburgh), PhD (Brown University)


Office: Frandsen Humanities 013
Telephone: (775) 784-7548
Email: gpremnath@unr.edu


Postcolonial literary studies; twentieth-century British literature; literary and cultural theory; diaspora and ethnic studies


I was drawn to academia by the sense of intellectual excitement surrounding the interdisciplinary field of postcolonial studies, and much of my thinking, research, and published work engages with the issues and debates central to this field. Chief among these has been my involvement in the scholarly conversation surrounding the fate of the nation-state. Postcolonial studies initially concerned itself primarily with the problems and prospects that accompanied the emergence of new postcolonial nations during the middle decades of the twentieth century, yet in recent years such forms of nation-based inquiry have increasingly been supplanted by new transnational and diasporic paradigms. I’m fascinated by the new cultural and intellectual possibilities this shift has brought into view, yet my work also argues forcefully against bidding a premature farewell to the nation-state, which continues to define avenues of possibility and horizons of hope for much of the world. This intellectual orientation shapes the concerns of my forthcoming first book, Mobile Republics: Itineraries of Postcolonial Authorship between India and the Caribbean. The book explores how ideas of authorship that emerged among Indian diasporic writers in the decolonizing Caribbean came to shape the self-understanding of a rising generation of writers in India itself decades later. I show how even an imaginative disengagement from the task of nation-building can often provoke new forms of engagement with nationalism. I am now working on a second book project that studies practices of literary realism among British and British-based postcolonial writers in the 1950s and 60s, provisionally titled “Literary Realism and the Poetics of Post-Imperial Transition.” I argue that realism reemerges to prominence during these years because it  offer writers of the time a set of aesthetic preoccupations specific to a moment of immense historical transition, as a society once defined primarily in terms of an imperial role reorients itself around social democracy and the welfare state. This project draws upon extensive research in archives in the US, UK, Trinidad, and Jamaica.

My research and teaching interests span postcolonial literary studies (especially concerning South Asia and the Anglophone Caribbean), twentieth-century British literature, and literary and cultural theory. I also have a strong and abiding interest in the culture of cities, and often teach courses on literary urbanism.