Nisha Kommattam

Associate Instructional Professor in Comparative Literature and The College
Classics 116
Ph.D. South Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Cologne, Germany; M.A. (German Magister Artium) in South Asian Studies, English Literature and Philosophy, University of Cologne, Germany
Teaching at UChicago since 2005 – 2015, 2017 - present
Research Interests: South Asian Studies, South Indian literatures, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Translation Studies, Animal Studies, Inter-Asia Comparisons, Literatures of Migration

Nisha Kommattam works at the intersection of South Asian literatures and Gender & Sexuality studies, with a focus on Southern India (Malayalam Literature, Kerala Studies).  She is also interested in literatures of migration, inter-Asia comparisons, and in the transnational entanglements of pioneering queer German writers in fin-de-siècle Europe. She concurrently holds a research position at the University of Cologne, Germany. In 2017, Nisha Kommattam was awarded a multi-year research grant from the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (German Ministry of Education and Research), for her project “Transnational Networks of Queerness in South Asia”. Prior to that award, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth College and taught in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.


Are They Women? A Novel Concerning the Third Sex by Aimée Duc; with Margaret S. Breen, (translation from German, with critical introduction); Broadview Press, Peterborough, ON, Canada, 2020.

Sind es Frauen? Ein Roman über das dritte Geschlecht by Aimée Duc, with Margaret S. Breen, (new edition with critical introduction); Querverlag, Berlin, Germany, 2020. 

Book manuscript: The Public Secret; monograph on narratives of non-normative sexuality in Southern India

Work with Students:

Work with Ph.D. students on South Asian Literatures, Gender and Sexuality Studies, South India as a Region of Study, Kerala Studies.

Selected Publications:

“Vehicles of Progress: The Kerala Rikshawalla at the Intersection of Communism and Cosmopolitanism”, book chapter in: Bourdaghs, Michael, Paola Iovene and Kaley Mason (eds.). Sound Alignments. Durham: Duke University Press, forthcoming 2020.

Translation of three Malayalam short stories, Anthology of Queer Writing from Kerala, Eds. T. Muraleedharan and Meena T. Pillai. Oxford University Press, 2020.

“Der Islam ist eine Religion, die die Vernunft respektiert” [Islam is a religion that respects reason] by Muhammad Abdul Khader Maulavi (1873–1932), translation from Malayalam to German, for the volume: Frey, Christiane, Uwe Hebekus and David Martyn (eds.). Säkularisierung - Grundlagentexte zur Theoriegeschichte. [A Reader on Secularization]. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 2020.

“Castle Wetterstein: In Context”, editing and translation of contextual materials on Frank Wedekind and his work, in: Johnston, Ian (ed.). Castle Wetterstein. Petersborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2019.

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

“Boundaries and Borderlands”, in exhibition catalogue: Pritika Chowdhry. What the Body Remembers. DOVA Temporary 2009.