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ShankarRaman
2010–2011
Beatrice Shepherd Blane Fellow
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Literature
Before the Two Cultures: Literature and Mathematics in Early Modern England

Shankar Raman is an associate professor in the literature faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His current research focuses on the connections between mathematics and literature in 16th- and 17th-century Europe. It examines how, together, they became crucial means for literate men and women to wrestle with questions of calculability, contingency, and the rationality of belief in an increasingly uncertain world. He also continues to work on early modern colonialism, the subject of his first book.

During his fellowship year at Radcliffe, Raman will explore early modern geometry, probability, and calculus, relating these to imaginative literature and, thereby, trying to do justice to literary form as well as mathematical content. Investigating how literature unravelled the cultural implications of mathematics, and how mathematical thought, in turn, shaped individual identity and behavior, he hopes to show the reciprocal, transformative power of these unexpectedly allied areas of knowledge.

Before receiving his PhD in English literature from Stanford University, Raman completed a bachelor’s and a master’s in electrical engineering from MIT and the University of California at Berkeley, respectively. He is a research affiliate with the Making Publics project, a major five-year interdisciplinary initiative funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He was recently awarded a Folger Shakespeare Library short-term research fellowship. Raman is the author of Framing “India”: The Colonial Imaginary in Early Modern Culture (Stanford University Press, 2001) and coeditor of Knowing Shakespeare: Senses, Embodiment, and Cognition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), a collection of essays.

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.
Photo by Tony Rinaldo