Principal Faculty

Vilashini Cooppan
  • Pronouns she, her, her, hers, herself
  • Title
    • Professor
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • Literature Department
    • Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Affiliations South Asia Studies, History of Consciousness Department
  • Phone
    831-459-5632 (Office)
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Humanities Building 1, 633
  • Office Hours Wednesday 4-5 (remote)
  • Mail Stop Humanities Academic Services
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Africa and African Studies, Ocean Studies, Atlantic World, Colonialism, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Critical Theory, Sense and Sensation, Psychoanalysis, Gender Studies, Sexuality
  • Courses History, Trauma, Memory, Postcolonial Theory, What is the Novel?, The African Novel, The Postcolonial Novel, Migration and Memory, Black Britain, Empire and After in the Anglophone Novel, Worldings: Network Theory, The Politics of Fashion, Literature 101 (Love Studies, Postcolonial Studies), Literature 1 (Introduction to Literary Analysis), The Novel and Global Climate Change, Genre Theory,

Research Interests

Comparative and world literature, with a focus on Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean, Britain, and the U.S.; literatures of slavery, colonialism, apartheid, and diaspora; Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean studies; colonial, decolonial, and postcolonial thought; critical race theory, sensation and sense; philosophies of embodiment, affect theory, genre theory, theory of the novel. 

Biography, Education and Training

Vilashini Cooppan completed her BA at Yale University in 1988 and her Ph.D in Comparative Literature at Stanford University in 1996. She held a Stanford University African Studies fellowship at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, in 1995 and a University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellowship in1996-97. She was Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University from 1997 to 2004.  Since then, she has taught at UCSC, where she teaches comparative and world literature, with an emphasis on postcolonial theory, genre theory, critical theory, memory studies, and 

Selected Publications


Worlds Within: National Narratives and Global Connections in Postcolonial Writing (2009)


Selected Chapters in Books

"Teaching Anglophone World Literature," in Handbook of Anglophone World Literatures (2020)


"World Literature after 1989: Revolutions in Motion," in The Cambridge History of World Literature (2020)

"Nobody's Novel," in The Cambridge Companion to the Novel (2018)

"World Literature Between History and Theory," in The Routledge Companion to World Literature (2013)

"Affecting Politics: Postapartheid Fiction and the Limits of Trauma," in Trauma, Memory, and Narrative in the Contemporary South African Novel: Essays (2012)

"The Ethics of World Literature: Reading Others, Reading Otherwise," in Teaching World Literature (2009)

"Move on Down the Line: Domestic Science, Transnational Politics, and Gendered Allegory in Du Bois," in Next to the Color Line: Gender, Sexuality, and W. E. B. Du Bois (2007)

"Mourning Becomes Kitsch: The Aesthetics of Loss in Severo Sarduy's Cobra," in Loss: The Politics of Mourning (2002)

"W(h)ither Post-Colonial Studies? Towards the Transnational Study of Race and Nation," in Postcolonial Theory and Criticism (1999)


Selected Articles

"Connective Tissue: Memory’s Weave and the Entanglements of Diasporic Ethnicity," Qui Parle, vol. 28, no. 2 (December 2019): 281-306

"Time-Maps: A Field Guide to the Decolonial Imaginary," Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, vol. 2, no. 3 (December 2019): 396-415

"Net Work: Area Studies, Comparison, and Connectivity," in PMLA, vol. 128, no. 3 (May 2013): 615-622

"Memory’s Future: Affect, History, and New Narrative in South Africa," Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies, vol. 35, no. 1 (2009): 51-75 

"The Double Politics of Double Consciousness: Nationalism and Globalism in The Souls of Black Folk," Public Culture, vol17, no. 2 (2005): 299-318


"Hauntologies of Form: Race, Writing, and the Literary World System," Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism, vol. 13 (2005), 71-87

"Ghosts in the Disciplinary Machine: The Uncanny Life of World Literature," Comparative Literature Studies, vol 41, no. 1 (2004), 10-36

"World Literature and Global Theory: Comparative Literature for the New Millennium," symploke, vol. 9, nos. 1-2 (2001), 15-43



Teaching Interests

Critical theory, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, network theory, trauma theory, memory studies, postcolonial theory and literature, genre theory, affect theory, love studies, Indian Ocean and Black Atlantic worlds, African literatures, literature of the South Asian diaspora, critical race studies, philosophies of embodiment, sense and sensation, the politics of fashion, autotheory.