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Namratha Rao



Dr Namratha Rao joined the department 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 poetry and poetics and the history of literary criticism, the relation between poetry and thinking, and intersections between literary form and intellectual history. From 2014-2019, her work was supported by the Ertegun Fund and the Clarendon Trust, and she has since won awards and fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy and the Osler and Huntington Libraries in North America. At York, Namratha teaches modules on early modern literature and its legacies, as well as premodern medical humanities, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.



Namratha’s research interests span literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, particularly poetry and poetics, the history of poetic forms and literary criticism, and the intersections and resistances between literature and intellectual history. Her work has been published in Essays in CriticismEnglish Literary Renaissance, The Review of English Studies and The Spenser Review. She has contributed a chapter, ‘Animals against Materiality’, to a collection on Spenser and Animal Life, and is the co-editor of a special issue of Spenser Studies (2023), 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 philosophical texts that is thought relevant to early modern studies more generally, and to constellate approaches and areas that are often treated separately. 

Namratha is currently writing her first monograph, Poetics of the Material: Spenser and Milton, which charts a new understanding of Spenser’s formal and figurative practices in The Faerie Queene and shorter poems, and the kinds of thinking they afford, and reimagines the contested literary relationship between the two poets. Poetics of the Material is concerned with the poets in particular, the history of poetic forms—particularly allegory—and literary imitation more generally, in poetry’s thinking in excess of philosophy and in the relations between poetry and intellectual history, including metaphysics, epistemology, and moral thought.

Other ongoing projects include writing the Introduction to the new Oxford World’s Classics King Lear and a collaborative effort, supported by a British Academy Small Grant, to rethink the mutual entanglement of metaphysics and materialism in early modern literature. With regard to the latter, of particular interest are the ways in which metaphysics both underwrites and is informed by more material concerns (including, for instance, the emergence of capitalism and colonial expansion), and the ways, in turn, which these reciprocal agitations are seen and felt in poetic craft. Namratha is also planning a new project, on the literary forms of sympathy, cosmic and intersubjective, in early modern literature, for which she was awarded an Early Career Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2020; declined) and visiting fellowships at the Huntington Library (USA) and the Osler Library of the History of Medicine (Canada).

Namratha is a member of the interdisciplinary Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at York and serves on the executive committee of the International Spenser Society and the editorial board of The Spenser Review.


Enquiries from prospective research students interested in the connections between early modern literature and intellectual history would be warmly welcome, particularly on topics related to poetry, poetics and rhetoric; metaphysics and materialism; theories and histories of embodiment and affect; the history of science; moral philosophy.



Namratha teaches a range of BA courses in early modern English and comparative literature, including ‘Classics and Cultural Translations’, ‘The Renaissance’, ‘Approaches to Literature’ and ‘Thinking Forms’ in early modern poetry. 


Namratha is the convenor of the MA in Renaissance Literature and the MA module, ‘Shakespeare’.  She also runs the module ‘Healing, Harming, Feeling’, on the poetics and hermeneutics of medicine in early modern literature and contributes a seminar on ‘Metaphysical Poetry?’ to the MA module ‘Poetry and Poetics’.

Contact details

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

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322929