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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Aakanksha Virkar is an interdisciplinary researcher and lecturer who specialises in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Her work focuses on the intersections between literature and philosophy, aesthetics, music and visual culture.

Her new research and publications on T. S. Eliot consider Eliot's work in light of philosophy, politics and music. She won a University of Brighton 'Rising Stars' award for a project that considers Eliot and other British writers (Forster, Woolf, Huxley) in relation to the political legacy of Beethoven. This work was shortlisted for the AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinkers scheme 2017. In 2020, for the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, she was an invited guest on BBC Radio 3's Composer of the Week' as part of the 'Beethoven Unleashed' series.

Other recent talks include panel presentations on 'Resisting Fascism: Beethoven's Legacy in Huxley's "Point Counter Point" and Eliot's "Four Quartets" at the Modernist Studies Association, Toronto 2019  and on 'Beethoven, Nietzsche and the Music of War' at the American Literature Assocation annual conference, San Francisco, 2018.

Her earlier work on the Victorian poet G. M. Hopkins has also gained recognition, emphasising Hopkins' previously unacknowledged indebtedness to seventeenth-century visual culture. Her article on Hopkins and emblematics was ranked amongst the 50 Most Read articles published by ‘Literature and Theology’ (OUP) between 2007-2012. Her monograph The Philosophical Mysticism of Gerard Manley Hopkins (2018) has recently been published in the Routledge Nineteenth Century Series.

Reviews of The Philosophical Mysticism of Gerard Manley Hopkins

“this is a lovely and lovingly realized book that participates in the ongoing so-called turn to religion in Victorian studies in its reassessment of Victorian mysticism and Hopkins’s place in the mystical tradition. Each of its chapters is quickpaced and tightly written, rapidly moving the reader across centuries’ worth of textual, religious, and visual materials… a testament to [Virkar] Yates’s success in capturing the dynamism and profundity of her subject matter”  ---- Winter Jade Werner, Victorian Studies 62.1 (2019): 154-156 (Review)

"Close reading of Hopkins’ never less than challenging verse is pursued in this book with theological rigour and learning in a manner that will ensure that it will become a central resource in scholarship on the finest of late nineteenth century English poets… a work of fine scholarship, theologically learned and poetically sensitive, and yet at the same time spiritually acute and attentive to the delicate, complex world of Hopkins and his writings. This is a book to be treasured and pondered upon."  ---- Professor David Jasper, Literature and Theology (OUP)


Scholarly biography

Aakanksha Virkar completed her doctorate at the University of Sussex, prior to which she was a Commonwealth scholar at the University of Cambridge, a recipient of a full scholarship from the Nehru Trust for Cambridge University. From 2013-2015 she was a Visiting research fellow at the University of Sussex and also at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, London.

Supervisory Interests

Aakanksha is happy to supervise postgraduate work on late Victorian and modern literature. She has specific interests in literary modernism and would particularly welcome projects exploring literature and the arts (music and visual culture).

Specific areas within literary studies (1850-1950) might include

  • Victorian/modern transitions
  • philosophy, aesthetics and politics in modern literature
  • poetry and poetics
  • representations of music and dance in literature
  • aestheticism, decadence and desire

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Sussex

Award Date: 1 Jan 2010

Master, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 30 Jun 2006

Bachelor, University of Cambridge

1 Oct 200029 Jun 2002

Award Date: 29 Jun 2002

Bachelor, University of Bombay

Award Date: 30 May 2000

External positions

Visiting research fellow, University of Sussex

Oct 2013Oct 2015

Visiting research fellow, Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London



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