Shankar Raman

Shankar Raman
Section Head, Professor


Shankar Raman is Head of the Literature Section. His research focuses on late medieval and early modern literature and culture.   He received his PhD in English Literature (with a minor in German) from Stanford University in 1995, switching fields and careers after receiving both a master’s (U. C. Berkeley) and a bachelor’s (MIT) degree in Electrical Engineering (along with a second bachelor’s at MIT through the Department of Architecture).

His first book, Framing ‘India’: The Colonial Imaginary in Early Modern Culture (Stanford 2002)investigates the relationship between colonialism and literature in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. It compares Portuguese, English and Dutch colonial activity to examine the role of India as a figure through which these diverse European powers imagined and defined themselves. A second book, Renaissance Literature and Postcolonial Studies, was recently published by Edinburgh University Press (2011) . He is also co-editor, with Lowell Gallagher, of Knowing Shakespeare: Senses, Embodiment, Cognition (Palgrave Macmillan 2010)He is currently working on a monograph on the relationship between literature and mathematics in early modern Europe, tentatively entitled Before the Two Cultures. From 2005 to 2010 he participated in Making Publics: Media, Markets and Associations in Early Modern Europe, 1500 – 1700 [MaPs], a major five-year interdisciplinary research initiative funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.

His teaching at MIT includes: Shakespeare, Renaissance poetry and drama, literary theory, and postcolonial fiction.

Renaissance and late-Medieval literature and culture; colonialism and post-colonialism; history of ideas; history of science; literary theory


In Progress

Before the Two Cultures: Literature and Mathematics in Early Modern Europe.


Renaissance Literature and Postcolonial Studies. Edinburgh University Press.


Knowing Shakespeare: Senses, Embodiment Cognition. Palgrave Macmillan. (A collection of essays, co-edited with Lowell Gallagher, UCLA).


Framing “India”: The Colonial Imaginary in Early Modern Culture. Stanford University Press.


 Selected Articles

2011 “Learning from de Bry: Lessons in Seeing and Writing the Heathen,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 41 (1): 13-66.
2010 “Specifying Unknown Things: The Algebra of The Merchant of Venice,” in Paul Yachnin and Bronwen Wilson, eds., Making Publics in Early Modern Europe: People, Places, Forms of Knowledge. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 212-231.
2009 “Death by Numbers: Counting and Accounting in The Winter’s Tale,” in Diana Henderson, ed., Alternative Shakespeares 3. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 146-171.
2007 “Marvell’s Now,” Early Modern Culture (6), Special Issue: Timely Meditations (eds. Crystal Bartolovich and Jonathan Gil Harris);
2005 “Marking Time: Memory and Market in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors,Shakespeare Quarterly 56 (2): 176-205.
2004 “‘The Ship Comes Well-Laden’: Court Politics, Colonialism, and Cuckoldry in Gil Vicente’s Auto da India.” In: Imperialisms: Historical and Literary Investigations 1500-1900, ed. Balachandran Rajan and Elizabeth Sauer. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 15-32.
2001 “Can’t Buy Me Love: Money, Gender, and Colonialism in Donne’s Erotic Verse.” Criticism 43(2): 135-168.
2001 “Back to the Future: Forging History in Luis de Camões’ Os Lusíadas,in Travel Knowledge: European “Discoveries” in the Early Modern Period, ed. Ivo Kamps and Jyotsna G. Singh,.New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 127-147.
1997 “Imaginary Islands: Staging the East.” Renaissance Drama, n.s., Vol. XXVI: 131-162.
1997 “Desire and Violence in Renaissance England: Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II.Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift, 71(1): 39-69.


Subjects taught the current academic year:

21L.015 Children’s Literature (Fall 2020)


Subjects taught in recent years:

21L.015 Children’s Literature (Fall 2020)

21L.015 Children’s Literature (Fall 2019)

21L.451 Literary Theory (Spring 2019)

21L.703 Studies in Drama: Getting Even: The Drama of Revenge (Spring 2019)

21L.703 Studies in Drama: The Drama of Revenge (Fall 2018)