Dr. Meena T. Pillai

Dean, Faculty of Arts
Professor, Institute of English
Director, Centre for Cultural Studies
University of Kerala
Former Fulbright Visiting Professor,
University of California, Los Angeles

My academic career began with my doctoral work on American Gothic Fiction (with a Fulbright Doctoral Fellowship at the Ohio State University, Columbus, in 1995). Much of my subsequent work has been located at the intersection of Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies, cases in point being my two post-doctoral projects, on gendered nationalisms in Indian and Canadian cinemas (with a Shastri Fellowship at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, University of Concordia),  and  on the gender question in mass media (with a Commonwealth Fellowship at the Centre for Media Studies, University Sussex). I edited the first ever volume of essays on the representation of women in Malayalam cinema (Orient Blackswan, 2010). Subsequently I have published a series of essays exploring the cultural politics of Kerala’s modernity, popular culture’s negotiation of Kerala’s gender histories, Indian cinema’s shaping of the national imaginary, and most recently the transformations of Kerala’s gender cultures in the age of new media. My work has appeared in journals such as the Ariel from John Hopkins University Press, South Asian Review, Journal of Creative Communications (Sage), Bioscope (Sage), and Economic & Political Weekly. My essays have been published by the Oxford University Press, Sage, Cambridge University Press, Orient Blackswan, Harper Collins, Zubaan, Routledge (London), British Film Institute and Bloomsbury among others, and are part of anthologies and books prescribed for study as part of academic syllabi. I believe in extending the academic project beyond the ivory tower, and to this end, I contribute columns to English and regional language newspapers and magazines, participate in panel discussions in regional TV channels and broadcast programmes in All India Radio. 

For the last one year I have been a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where I taught a graduate course on ‘New Geographies of Women’s Digital Dissent’ which sought to enable an exploration  of  the  intersectionality  of  gender,  class,  race, and  caste,  and  the  ways  in  which  these categories  have  been  shaped  by  the  advent  of  such  agents  of  (post)modernity  as  cinema  and  cybercultures.  The course focused on fostering collaborative, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research that helped students gain a critical perspective on what the digital turn implied to gender politics and how contemporary feminist digital revolutions shape new regional and global cultures of resistance and forge mutually formative links. The  course, which  drew from  a  repertoire  of  feminist  theory  to  look  at distinct  media  forms  and  the  diverse  cultures  of  resistance  that  they  engender, helped students develop a cross-cultural gender consciousness, and received a wonderful feedback from them. 

The symbiotic relationship between my academic and ‘popular’ writings is reflected in my numerous articles in newspapers such as the Hindu, Times of India, Indian Express and magazines like Frontline and Outlook, many of which like “’Feminichi’ and Other Compliments”, discuss the fractious gender debates in Kerala.

Academic Positions

Dean
Faculty of Arts, University of Kerala

Professor
Institute of English, University of Kerala

Director
Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Kerala

Previous Positions

Fulbright Visiting Professor
University of California, Los Angeles

Associate Professor
Institute of English, University of Kerala

Assistant Professor & Head of the Department of English
Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady

Education & Training

  • Post-Doctoral Research

    Research at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema

    Concordia University, Montreal, Canada with Sasthri Fellowship

  • Post-Doctoral Research

    Research at the Department of Media Studies

    University of Sussex, U.K with Commonwealth Fellowship

  • Doctoral

    Ph.D. in ``The Gothic Tradition in Post-War American Fiction``

    University of Kerala in 1998 with Fulbright Doctoral Fellowship at the Ohio State University, Columbus, U.S.A

  • Masters

    M.A. in English Language and Literature

    St. Berchmans' College, Mahatma Gandhi University with First Class and First Rank in 1990

Positions Held

  1. Nominated as Jury Member for the SIGNS Festival on documentaries, 2017.
  2. Jury Member for the Kerala State Film Awards, 2016 (constituted by the Govt. of Kerala)
  3. Invited as Expert to the Committee on Research in Universities in Kerala, Kerala State Higher Education Council, in 2015.
  4. Selection Committee Member of the 17th International Film Festival of Kerala (2012), a prestigious international film festival conducted annually by the Govt. of Kerala
  5. Selection Committee Member of the 6th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, 2013.

Membership in Administrative and Academic bodies

  1. Director (2010-), Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Kerala
  2. Head of the Department of English, & Member, Academic Council, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady from 1998- 2002.
  3. Director, School of English and Foreign Languages, University of Kerala (2013-2016, 2020-2021).
  4. Member of the Kerala University PG Board of Studies; instrumental in designing and  introducing Film Studies and Cultural Studies at the UG/ PG levels of the University.

Honors, Awards and Fellowships

  • 2019-2020
    Fulbright Nehru Academic and Professional and Excellence Award (Teaching & Research)
  • 2017
    Dr. N. A. Karim Award for the Best University Teacher
  • 2011-2012
    Meenakshy Mukherjee Memorial Award for best academic publication
    Meenakshy Mukherjee Memorial Award, for the best academic publication in 2011-2012 by Indian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies
  • 2003 - 2004
    Commonwealth Fellow
    Commonwealth Fellow, at the Centre for Media Studies, University Sussex, Brighton, UK.

    Project: “Mediated Women: Gender and Media in India”

  • 2001 - 2002
    Sasthri Fellow
    Sasthri Fellow, at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, University of Concordia, Montreal, Canada.

    Project: “Gendering Nationalism: Cinema in Canada and India”

  • 1995-1996
    Fulbright Fellow
    Fulbright fellowship at the Ohio State University

    Thesis: The Gothic Tradition in Post-War American Fiction