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Namratha Rao



Namratha Rao joined the Department of English and Related Literature in 2021 as a Lecturer in Early Modern Literature. She completed her BA, MSt, and DPhil degrees at the University of Oxford. From 2019-21, she held a lectureship in English at Hertford College, Oxford, where she taught approaches to literature, and literature from 1550-1700, including Shakespeare. 

Namratha’s research focuses on literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with particular interests in allegory, poetry and poetics, and theories and histories of embodiment, affect, medicine and science. Her work has been supported by the Ertegun Fund and the Clarendon Trust, and she holds visiting fellowships at the Osler and Huntington Libraries in North America. At York, Namratha teaches modules on early modern literature and culture, and premodern medical humanities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.



Namratha is a member of the interdisciplinary Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at York, and is on the Executive Committee of the International Spenser Society. 

 She has particular interests in the intersections between literary form and theories and histories of affect, embodiment, science, and moral thought. Her essays are published or forthcoming in Essays in Criticism, Spenser Review and English Literary Renaissance. She is contributing a chapter, ‘Thinking with plants’, to a collection on Spenser and Animal Life, and writing the Introduction to the new Oxford World’s Classics King Lear. Namratha is also co-editing, with David Hillman (Cambridge) and Joe Moshenska (Oxford), a special issue of Spenser Studies, entitled ‘Companionable Thinking: Spenser with’, which draws together essays that involve a mutually illuminating encounter between Spenser and a later philosopher or theorist. This volume seeks to broaden the canon of theoretical and philosophical texts that is thought relevant to early modern studies more generally, and to bring together approaches and areas that are often treated separately. 

Namratha is currently writing her first monograph, Poetics of Materiality: Spenser and Milton, which interrogates Spenser’s investment in abstract thought, examines the distinctive allegory of The Faerie Queene with implications for the overall conception of allegory in the period, and reimagines the contested literary relationship between Spenser and Milton. Poetics of Materiality is concerned with the poets in particular, with early modern poetics more generally, and with the subfields of allegory, embodiment and epistemology. Namratha is also beginning work on a second project, Early Modern Sympathies, for which she was awarded an Early Career Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2020), and visiting fellowships at the Huntington Library (USA) and the Osler Library of the History of Medicine (Canada).


Namratha would welcome hearing from prospective research students interested in early modern literature and intellectual history, particularly on topics related to poetry, poetics and rhetoric (especially Spenser and Milton); theories and histories of embodiment and affect; critical race studies; moral philosophy; history of science.



Namratha teaches on the core foundational module, Approaches to Literature II: Other Worlds, which explores and analyses the peculiar remoteness and familiarity of the medieval and early modern periods, as well as the ‘other worlds’-- heaven, hell, chaos, monstrous borderlands, ‘new’ worlds -- imagined in these periods. 


Namratha designs and convenes an option module on the interdisciplinary MA in Medical History and Humanities, ‘Healing, Harming, Feeling: Medical Hermeneutics in Early Modern Literature’. 

Contact details

Dr Namratha Rao
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322929