Seeta Chaganti

Seeta Chaganti

Position Title
Professor of English

275 Voorhies Hall

Education and Degree(s)

  • 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 has begun a third book in collaboration with Dr. Gabrielle Nevitt (Dept. of Neurobiology, UC Davis) entitled Chicken Lyric: Poetry and the Avian Sense World. Written for a general audience, this book will show how a long history of familiar Anglophone poetry -- including works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Frost, Williams, Bishop, and Kay Ryan -- reflects in its form and content the chicken's deep influence on human perceptions of sensory environments.


“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

Interview, Dr. Andy's Poetry and Technology Hour, KDVS


Selected Publications

  • "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)