Sukanya Banerjee

Associate Professor

Sukanya Banerjee works on the literature and culture of Victorian Britain and its empire. More broadly, she is interested in postcolonial studies, ecology, studies of transnationalism and diaspora, political theory, and South Asia. Her book, Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire (Duke University Press, 2010), which was awarded the NVSA Sonya Rudikoff Prize for best first book in Victorian studies, locates the liberal discourse of citizenship outside the conventional frame of the nation-state by studying how colonial subjects formulated claims to citizenship in late nineteenth-early twentieth- century Britain and its empire. Emphasizing the narrativity of citizenship, the book examines the literary and cultural registers that enabled such formulations.  Banerjee is a coeditor of New Routes in Diaspora Studies (Indiana University Press, 2012). She is currently working on a book tentatively titled “Loyalty and the Making of the Modern: A Transimperial System” and is also looking toward a future book-length project on Victorian ecocolonialisms. Banerjee joined  the English department at Berkeley in 2020 after teaching for nearly two decades at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she was a recipient of the UW-Milwaukee Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award (2016).

Current Research: 

I am currently work on a book provisionally titled, “Loyalty and the Making of the Modern: A Transimperial System.” By drawing attention to the under examined category of loyalty, this book argues for the centrality of loyalty to figurations of modernity. Rather than focus on political loyalty alone--a context in which loyalty gets most prominence--I examine interlocking formulations of loyalty across three evolving sites of modernity in nineteenth-early twentieth century Britain and its empire: that of the state, the family, and the economy. In querying how and why ideas of loyalty were idealized at a moment marked both by massive industrialism and high imperialism, I study literary genres and modes that stabilize the seemingly counterintuitive relation between loyalty and modernity. In so doing, I also identify the “transimperial” as a heuristic for studying the expansive yet connected multilingual literary systems of empire.


Sukanya Banerjee; Aims McGuinness; Steven C. McKay
Edited volume, 2012

Selected Publications


Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010): 272 pgs.

New Routes in Diaspora Studies, co-edited with Aims McGuinness, and Steve McKay (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012): 241 pgs.

Edited Special Issue of Journal/Special Cluster

“Victorians in Location,” special cluster of essays in Victorian Literature and Culture 51.1 (Spring 2023): 91-139.

The Wide Nineteenth Century, special issue of Victorian Literature and Culture 49.1 (Spring 2021). Coedited with Ryan Fong and Helena Michie.

 Articles and Essays

Indulekha, or The Many Lives of Realism at the Fin De Siècle,” in Nineteenth-Century Literature in Transition: the 1890s, edited by Kristin Mahoney and Dustin Friedman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, December 2023): 78-96.

“Introduction: Victorians in Location,” Victorian Literature and Culture 51.1 (Spring 2023): 91-94.

“Thinking with the Nation: “National” Literatures at the Cusp,” CUSP: Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Cultures 1.1 (Winter 2023): 84-95

“Loyalty,” Victorian Studies 64.4 (Summer 2022): 567-72.

“Introduction: Widening the Nineteenth Century,” coauthored with Ryan Fong and Helena Michie, in The Wide Nineteenth Century, special issue edited by Sukanya Banerjee, Ryan Fong, and Helena Michie, Victorian Literature and Culture 49.1 (Spring 2021): 1-26.

“Ecologies of Cotton,” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 42.5 (December 2020): 493-507.

“Writing Bureaucracy, Bureaucratic Writing: Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, and Mid-Victorian Liberalism,” Nineteenth-Century Literature 75.2 (September 2020):133-158.

“Postcolonial,” The Routledge Companion to Victorian Literature, edited by Talia Schaffer and Dennis Denisoff (Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge, 2019): 462-72.

“The Victorians: Empire and the East,” Orientalism and Literature edited by Geoffrey Nash (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2019): 182-200.

“Ecology, Drama, and the Ground of Empire: The Play of Indigo,” in Ecological Form: System and Aesthetics in the Age of Empire, edited by Nathan Hensley and Philip Steer (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018): 21-41.

“Transimperial,” Victorian Literature and Culture 46.3/4 (2018): 917-24.

“Marriage, Modernity, and the Transimperial,” in Re-plotting Marriage in Nineteenth-Century British Literature, edited by Jill Galvan and Elsie Michie (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2018): 145-67.

“Who, or What, is Victorian?: Ecology, Indigo, and the Transimperial,” Victorian Studies 58.2 (Winter 2016): 223-33.

“Colonial and Postcolonial Literature,” in Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature, edited by Dino Felluga, Pamela Gilbert, and Linda Hughes (New York: Wiley/Blackwell, 2015): 348-54.

“Troubling Conjugal Loyalties: The First Indian Novel in English and the Transimperial Frame of Sensation,” Victorian Literature and Culture 42.3 (September 2014): 475-89.

“Routing Diasporas in the Twenty-First Century,” in New Routes in Diaspora Studies, edited by Sukanya Banerjee, Aims McGuinness, and Steve McKay (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012): 1-22.

“Empire, the Indian Diaspora, and the Place of the Universal.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 15.1 (Spring 2006): 147-166.  Review essay published in May 2010.

“Empire, Nation, and the Professional Citizen: Reading Cornelia Sorabji’s India Calling,” Prose Studies 28.3 (December 2006): 291-317.

“Political Economy, the Gothic, and the Question of Imperial Citizenship,” Victorian Studies 47. 2 (Winter 2005): 260-71.


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