Whitney Cox

Whitney Cox Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies in SALC

Office: Foster Hall 205
Phone: (773) 834-0772
Email: wmcox@uchicago.edu

Whitney Cox is an Associate Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the College. His principal interest lies in Sanskrit language and literature, coupled with long-term investment in premodern Tamil, and in the cultural, political, and social history of far southern India. His recent research has touched on a wide spectrum of issues, including the political history of the major imperial dynasty of the medieval Tamil country; the centuries-long connections between the southern reaches of the subcontinent and the valley of Kashmir in the northwest; the transformations of late-medieval textual scholarship; Sanskrit and Tamil literary theory; modes of premodern historical writing in Sanskrit; and the pan-Indic traditions of the tantric worship of the Hindu deity Shiva.

Cox took his BA at the University of Virginia (History/Religious Studies, 1996); his graduate work at Chicago led to a PhD in 2006. After two years working at the University of Pennsylvania, he took up a position at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), part of the University of London, where he worked from 2006 until 2013. Since 2011 he has been a member of the Berlin-based Working Group Zukunftsphilologie. He has previously held awards from Fulbright-Hayes, the British Academy, and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.


  • Ph.D. Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago, 2006
  • B.A. (History and Religious Studies, with honors), University of Virginia, 1996

Field Specialties

Sanskrit and Tamil philology; premodern literary theory; history of medieval South India; history of Śaivism.

Publications Include:

Articles and Contributions to Edited Volumes

  • “From source-criticism to intellectual history in the poetics of the medieval Tamil country.” In Whitney Cox and Vincenzo Vergiani, eds Bilingual Discourse and Cross-cultural Fertilisation: Sanskrit and Tamil in Medieval India. Collection Indologie no. 121. Pondicherry: Institut Français de Pondichéry/École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 2013.
  • “Literary Register and Historical Consciousness in Kalhaṇa: A Hypothesis.” In Whitney Cox, ed. “Kalhaṇa’s Rājataraṅgiṇī and its Inheritors.” Special issue of the Indian Economic and Social History Review, 50 (2), 2013.
  • “Bhoja’s Alternate Universe” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 22 (1), 2012.
  • “Saffron in the Rasam.” In Yigal Bronner, Whitney Cox and Lawrence McCrea, eds, South Asian Texts in History: Critical Engagements With Sheldon Pollock Asia Past and Present no. 7. Ann Arbor: Association of Asian Studies, 2011.
  • “Law, Literature, and the Problem of Politics in Medieval India.” In Donald Davis, Timothy Lubin, and Jayanth Krishnan, eds. Law and Hinduism: An Introduction, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  • “Sharing a single seat: the poetics and politics of male intimacy in Bilhaṇa’s VikramāṅkakāvyaJournal of Indian Philosophy, 38 (5), 2010.
  • “Scribe and Script in the Cālukya West Deccan.” Indian Economic and Social History Review, 47 (1), 2010.
  • “The Transfiguration of Tiṇṇaṉ the Archer” Indo-Iranian Journal, 48 (3-4), 2005.

Work in Progress

  • Moonset on Sunrise Mountain: Politics, Poetry, and the Making of a South Indian King (current book project; to be submitted late 2013.).
  • Modes of Philology in Late-Medieval South India.To appear in the Philological Encounters series, Zukunftsphilologie Project, Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin.