Nisha Kommattam

Lecturer in Malayalam
Office: Foster Hall 204
Phone: (773) 702-8373
Fax: (773) 834-3254

Nisha Kommattam has been teaching at the University of Chicago, in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, since 2005. She was trained in South Asian Studies (Indology), Philosophy and English Literature at the University of Cologne, where she has recently submitted her doctoral thesis titled "Parasyamaaya Rahaysam / The Public Secret: Female Same-Sex Desires in Contemporary Kerala Culture", to be defended in spring 2015.
Her research interests and teaching skills include Malayalam Literature, Gender & Feminism in South India, Queer South Asia, and Animal Studies. She is currently working on a co-translation (book-length) of Tamil poet Leena Manimekalai's work into English.


M.A. University of Cologne

Field Specialties:

Malayalam Language and Literature, Gender & Feminism in South Asia, Queer South Asia, South Indian culture and history

Research Interests:

Modern Malayalam Literature, South Asian Feminism, Queer South Asia, Gender in South India, Kerala Studies, Christianity in South India, Animal Studies

Publications Include:

“Malayalam Poetry”, article in: Greene, Roland (ed.). 2013. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 839–840

Video Material for First- and Second-Year language teaching, filmed and edited in Kerala, March 2008 and January 2009. Published on Humanities Division website:  
"Boundaries and Borderlands”, essay in exhibition catalogue: Pritika Chowdhry. What the Body Remembers. DOVA Temporary 2009

Under Preparation:

Book: The First Beautiful Woman in the World. Poems by Leena Manimekalai (a volume of the Tamil poems of Leena Manimekalai in English translation, edited and translated with Sascha Ebeling).

Recent Presentations Include:

2014 – International Conference at the University of Chicago Beijing Center titled “Cosmopolitanism, Popular Song, and Asian Musical Responses to the Cold War,” June 2014: “Vehicles of Progress: Iconic Kerala Riksha-wallahs and Cold-war Cosmopolitanism in Malayalam films”.
2014 – Guest Lecture “Kawaii Overload: On the Social Politics of Cuteness” in course “Asian-American Popular Culture” taught by J. Daniel Elam, Northwestern University, November.
2013 – Feminist Pre-Conference, Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wiconsin-Madison: “Of Margins and Limits: Feminist Thoughts on Queer South Asia”.

Related Links:

Malayalam Learning Video Clips for 1st-and 2nd-year students (Beginners and Intermediate) - produced by Nisha Kommattam