Department Directory

Rajani Sudan

Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies

Ph.D., Cornell University

Rajani Sudan is a specialist in early modern British literature. Trained as a romanticist, her initial interest in the origins of Romantic literature has drawn her back in time, from the nineteenth to the eighteenth century and earlier, and turned her attention outward from Britain to the global encounters of the first British Empire. Her first book, Fair Exotics: Xenophobic Subjects in English Literature (UPenn, 2002) traces the simultaneous fascination with and fear of foreign people, a twin sensibility that underpinned Romantic subjectivity. Her second book, The Alchemy of Empire:  Abject Materials and the Technologies of Colonialism (Fordham UP, 2016), examines the non-European origins of that quintessential European era, the Enlightenment.  English Enlightenment "scientists" explained "exotic" Indian elixirs and their methods of preparation, brought to England by the British East India Company and introduced at meetings of the Royal Society, in terms of alchemy, that superstitious "science" that present-day scholars tell us was displaced by the rational science of the eighteenth century. 

She teaches courses on cultural representations of imperial identity in eighteenth-century Britain, but is also interested in science studies, cyberculture, and popular Hollywood film. Currently, she is working on her third book, The Dirt in the Machine:  A Place History of the Internet, a project uncovers the geographical, economic, environmental, and political space displaced by computer technology.  She co-edits Configurations:  A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology (Johns Hopkins UP).    

Courses taught

  • Technologies of Empire
  • Sex and the City in the Eighteenth Century
  • Literature and Film: Apocalypse and Empire
  • Revisiting the Gothic Novel

Publications (selected)


  • The Alchemy of Empire:  Abject Materials and the Technologies of Colonialism (Fordham UP 2016)
  • Fair Exotics:  Xenophobic Subjects in English Literature 1720-1850 (UPenn, 2001)

Articles and book chapters:

  • "Chilling Allahabad:  Climate Control and the Production of Anglicized Weather in Early Modern India."  Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies 8:2 (Fall/Winter 2008):  56-73.
  • "Elihu Yale, The British East India Company, and the Problem of Madras."  In Gerald Maclean, ed., Britain and the Muslim World.  Newcastle:  Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011:  52-68.
  • "Contracting Xenophobia:  Etiology, Inoculation, and the Limits of British Imperialism."  In Maria Bachman, Heidi Kaufman, and Marlene Tromp, eds.  Fear and Loathing in Victorian England.  Columbus:  Ohio State University Press, 2013:  pp.81-100.
  • "Mud, Mortar, and Other Technologies of Empire."  The Eighteenth Century:  Theory and Interpretation 45:2 Summer 2004 (released Fall 2005):  147-169.
  • "Girl Erupted" in Re-Load:  Rethinking Women and Cyberculture, Mary Flanagan and Austin Booth, eds.  (Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press, 2002):  355-373.
  • "Sexy SIMS, Racy SIMMS" in Race in Cyberspace, Beth E. Kolko, Lisa Nakamura, and Gilbert B. Rodman, eds.  (New York:  Routledge, 2000):  69-86.