21, No. 14, Feb. 21, 2002
Meet Suvir Kaul
By Andrea Lynn,
News Bureau Staff Writer
(217) 333-2177; firstname.lastname@example.org
by Bill Wiegand
| IPRH director
English professor Suvir Kaul is the new director of IPRH,
the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.
Suvir Kaul is the new director of IPRH, the Illinois Program for Research
in the Humanities. He started his new post in August, succeeding the
programs first director, Michael Bérubé, who left
Before coming to the UI in 1999, Kaul taught in the department of English
at Jamia Milia Islamia University in New Delhi for a year while he was
on leave from Stanford University. He taught for many years at the Khalsa
College, Delhi University, before joining Stanford.
Research interests: 18th century
British literature, literary and cultural theory, colonial and post-colonial
discourse studies and modern Indian writing, including the works of
Recent Books: "Poems of Nation,
Anthems of Empire: English Verse in the Long Eighteenth Century"
(University Press of Virginia, 2000; Oxford University Press, 2001),
winner of the Walker Cowen Prize, awarded biennially to a scholarly
manuscript in 18th century studies in history, literature, philosophy
or the arts.
"Thomas Gray and Literary Authority: A Study in Ideology and Poetics"
(Oxford, 1992; Stanford, 1992).
Education: Delhi University (B.A.,
M.A. and M.Phil.) and Cornell (Ph.D.)
Professional Service: Currently
a member of the advisory committee of Publications of the Modern Language
Association of America.
How will your research fold into your new role
as director of IPRH?
This is my third year at the UI, and I have found it a wonderful place
for academic work and intellectual exchange. There is an enormous cohort
of new faculty hires who are energetic and skilled, and their presence
is revitalizing the humanities on the campus.
I am at the beginning of a new project on literary and non-literary
representations of cultural trauma. This will lead to a book in which
I will concentrate on 18th century British culture, but I am also writing
on South Asian materials, in particular, those that deal with the 1947
partition of colonial India into Pakistan and India.
While the IPRH does involve administrative and other functions that
might make it harder to do my research, the IPRH is fortunate to have
a wonderful staff, including the associate director, Christine Catanzarite,
who runs the program with great efficiency and makes it possible for
me to be an administrator and to teach (a reduced load) and pursue my
What do you consider your main priorities at
IPRH, both short- and long-term?
To make certain that my faculty colleagues and graduate students recognize
the extraordinary expertise and talent available on our campus in departments
and programs with which they might ordinarily not be in touch. The IPRH
is committed to showcasing the best academic work on our campus
to ourselves as much as to other academics across the nation.
We are building a program in external postdoctoral fellowships that
will bring outstanding younger scholars to campus for a year in which
they will teach a course and interact with our internal fellows and
with their home departments. We hope to expand this program
to bring to the UI, for one semester at a time, senior scholars with
international reputations whose extended presence here will be valuable
for the campus as a whole.
Any new trends in the humanities that you are
The idea, in place for a while now, that new ways of thinking are often
developed in the friction between different academic disciplines and
in the many ways that methodologies developed in one area of scholarly
inquiry question the assumptions enshrined in others. The IPRH is set
up to enable and to benefit from this kind of friction.
What is the status of the humanities at the UI and in American academe?
As the events of Sept. 11 have proven in the most unfortunate way, U.S.
academic and cultural institutions have to take leadership roles in
enabling U.S. citizens to understand the world in which they live, and
in making sure that key values democracy and the rule of law,
religious and cultural plurality, egalitarian social and gender values
are reaffirmed, at home and overseas.
The next big event for IPRH will be April 4-7, the IPRH Fourth Annual
Conference, "The Means of Reproduction," at the Levis Faculty
Center. It is free and open to the public. The conference will feature
Robert Rosen, dean of the School of Theater, Film, and Television at
UCLA and noted expert on film preservation; Dorothy Roberts, professor
of law at Northwestern University; Martin Pernick, professor of history
at the University of Michigan; and other invited guests; as well as
presentations by the IPRH faculty and graduate student fellows for 2001-02.
More information is available at www.iprh.uiuc.edu.