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Ph.D., Yale University, 2001
M.A., Georgetown University, 1995
A.B., Harvard University, 1989
Seeta Chaganti joined the faculty of the UC Davis English department in 2001. She specializes in Old and Middle English poetry and its intersections with material culture. Her first book was The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). Her new book, Strange Footing (Chicago, 2018) argues that to medieval audiences, poetic form was a multimedia experience shaped by encounters with dance. In this work, she proposes a new method of reenacting medieval dance that draws upon experiences of watching contemporary dance. She is currently working on a project that explores the role of early English law in enabling extrajudicial violence in the US South.
Chaganti serves as a Trustee of the New Chaucer Society (2018-22); an Executive Board Member of Race before Race; and a member of Medievalists of Color.
Seeta Chaganti's Strange Footing has won the 27th annual Modern Language Association Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies.
“With great originality, Chaganti’s luminous book probes the experience of medieval poetic form through dance. Her sensitive, felt understanding of how the dancing body creates a virtual shape borne out of movement enables her to develop a richly multifaceted approach to medieval poetry: to the danse macabre, carols, and dance songs from many languages and vernacular cultures. In her skillful and imaginative readings, dance becomes a newly powerful means by which contemporary audiences can experience the living perceptual practices of the past.” -- Ardis Butterfield, Yale University
"The book itself continually performs 'strange footing,' self-consciously crossing boundaries between methods and perspectives to render strange temporal and generic delineations. In this way, it enacts a premodern critical aesthetic, employing ductus and virtuality perpetually to posit a translucent scrim between contemporary ways of gazing at performance and the temporally and spatially ductile ways late medieval poetic forms integrate cross-temporal experience into and across media. If intermediality itself is premodern, Chaganti shows how far contemporary critical theory can still go to move the form of its scholarship along." -- Kélina Gotman, King's College London
- co-authored with Andrea Myers Achi, "'Semper Novi Quid ex Africa': Redrawing the Borders of Medieval African Art and Considering its Implications for Medival Studies," in Disturbing Times: Medieval Pasts, Reimagined Futures, ed. Catherine E. Karkov, Anna Klosowska, and Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei. New York: Punctum, 2020. 73-106.
- "B-Side: Chaucer's The House of Fame," Public Books, 2/14/19
- "Confederate Monuments and the Cura pastoralis," In the Middle, 2/27/18
- "B-Side: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," Public Books, 12/8/17
- Strange Footing: Poetic Form and Dance in the Late Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.
- "Dance in a Haunted Space: Genre, Form, and the Middle English Carol." Exemplaria 27.1-2 (2015): 129-49.
- "Figure and Ground: Elene's Nails, Cynewulf's Runes, and Hrabanus Maurus's Painted Poems." The Arma Christi in Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture. Ed. Lisa H. Cooper and Andrea Denny-Brown. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. 53-82
- "The Platea Pre- and Postmodern: A Landscape of Medieval Performance Studies." Exemplaria 25.3 (2013): 252-64.
- "Proleptic Steps: Rethinking Historical Period in the Fifteenth-Century Dance Manual." Dance Research Journal 44.2 (2012): 28-47.
- (Editor) Medieval Poetics and Social Practice: Responding to the Work of Penn R. Szittya. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012.
- "Danse macabre and the Virtual Churchyard," postmedieval 3.1 (2012): 7-26.
- "Under the Angle: Memory, History, and Dance in Nineteenth-Century Medievalism." Australian Literary Studies 26.3-4 (2011): 147-62.
- "The Space of Epistemology in Marie de France's 'Yonec.'" Romance Studies 28.2 (2010): 71-83.
- "Vestigial Signs: Inscription, Performance, and The Dream of the Rood." PMLA 125.1 (2010): 48-72.
- The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary: Enshrinement, Inscription, Performance. New York: Palgrave, 2008.
- "'A Form as Grecian Goldsmiths Make': Enshrining Narrative in Chrétien de Troyes's Cligés and the Stavelot Triptych." New Medieval Literatures 7 (2005): 163-201.
- Faculty Research Fellowship, Davis Humanities Institute (2015)
- Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, Undergraduate, UC Davis (2014)
- Faculty Development Award, UC Davis (2013-14)
- Outstanding Mentor Award, UC Davis Consortium for Women and Research (2012)
- Society for the Humanities Fellowship, Cornell University (2009-10)
- Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities, Yale University (1999-2000)