Harshita Mruthinti Kamath
Visweswara Rao and Sita Koppaka Associate Professor
in Telugu Culture, Literature and History
Office: S-306b Callaway Center
Harshita Mruthinti Kamath (she/her) earned her B.A. from Emory University, Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and Ph.D. from Emory University. Her research focuses on textual and performance traditions of the South Indian language of Telugu.
Dr. Kamath's monograph, Impersonations: The Artifice of Brahmin Masculinity in South Indian Dance (University of California Press, 2019), traces themes of gender, caste, and power in the South Indian dance form of Kuchipudi. A multi-sited ethnographic study, Impersonations focuses on brahmin male dancers from the Kuchipudi village in Telugu-speaking South India who take on gendered guises to impersonate characters from Hindu religious narratives. Expanding on her work on gender guising and impersonation, Dr. Kamath co-edited the volume, Mimetic Desires: Impersonation and Guising Across South Asia (University of Hawai'i Press, 2022), with Pamela Lothspeich (UNC-Chapel Hill).
Dr. Kamath also works on classical Telugu literature in premodern and early modern contexts. Her current monograph, Love Poems for God: Erotic and Devotional Entanglements in Telugu South India, traces the relationship between eroticism (srngara) and devotion (bhakti) in the short lyrical poems of Tirumala poet Tallapaka Annamayya (ca. fifteen century). She completed the first English-language translation of the sixteenth-century classical Telugu text Parijatapaharanamu with Telugu scholar Velcheru Narayana Rao. The translation, titled Theft of a Tree, is published by the Murty Classical Library of India (Harvard University Press, 2022). Dr. Kamath is currently working on a collaborative project on the Telugu Mahabharata by Nannaya Bhatta (ca. eleventh century) with Ilanit Loewy Shacham (Tel Aviv University).
Dr. Kamath has published peer-reviewed articles in Journal of the American Oriental Society (2021), South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies (2021), Fieldwork in Religion (2020), Indian Economic and Social History Review (2019), Journal of Hindu Studies (2019), and Journal of Asian American Studies (2006). Her research has been supported by grants from the American Institute of Indian Studies, Fulbright-Hays, American Association of University Women, and National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend.
Dr. Kamath is a founding member of the American Academy of Religion's Seminar in Intersectional Hindu Studies, and co-creator of the Feminist Critical Hindu Studies (FCHS) Collective with Shreena Gandhi (Michigan State University), Sailaja Krishnamurti (Queen's University), and Shana Sippy (Centre College). The FCHS Collective has co-written articles in Immanent Frame (2022), Text & Performance Quarterly (2022), and Religion Compass (2021).
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