Associate Professor of Comparative and World Literature & of Religion

Rini Bhattacharya Mehta is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and of Religion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a fellow of Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, and affiliate of National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Mehta works on the evolution and synthesis of modernity; nationalism, religious revival, cinema and the post-global nation state. Her book on Indian cinema, Unruly Cinema: History, Politics, and Bollywood  was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2020. She has also published two co-edited anthologies: Bollywood and Globalization: Indian Popular Cinema, Nation, and Diaspora (Anthem Press, 2010) and Indian Partition in Literature and Films: History, Politics, Aesthetics (Routledge, 2014). She is currently working on a monograph on 19th century Calcutta, and on various computational humanities projects on cinema and literature. She is one of the recipients of University of Illinois’s first Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities. Scroll down and click the links under 'LINKS/Sample Visualizations' to browse some current visualizations. Here is a link to an article on Prof. Mehta's computational analysis of Tagore's songs.

Under a grant from the President's office at the University of Illinois, Mehta began a project on global film history. Global Film History from the Edges: Engineering a Comparative Public Humanities involved faculty, researchers, and graduate and undergraduate students from the three campuses of the University of Illinois in a digital humanities initiative stretching over two years (2019-2021). Mehta is actively looking for collaboration on all aspects of digital film history and computational humanities; any interested student or researcher or funding agency is requested to contact Prof. Mehta directly at her email provided below.

Research Areas:

Indian Cinema

Research, Teaching

Pre-Modern and Colonial South Asia

Research, Teaching

Global Film History from the Edges

Research in the Digital Humanities

My Affiliations:

Media and Cinema Studies




  1. Unruly Cinema: History, Politics, and Bollywood (Urbana: UIP, 2020)
  2. Indian Partition in Literature and Films: History, Politics, Aesthetics (UK: Routledge, 2014), Co-edited with Debali Mookerjea-Leonard
  3. Bollywood and Globalization: Indian Popular Cinema, Nation, and Diaspora (UK: Anthem, 2010), Co-edited with Rajeshwari Pandharipande. Reprint in Paperback June 2011


  1. “Retooling Trauma: Partition as Celebratory Nationalism in Neoliberal Metropolitan Cinema,“ South Asian Review, Volume 44: 3, Fall 2023
  2. “Indian Cinema, Indian Democracy: An Unusual Cold War Saga, 1947-1989,” Man Fung Yip and Poshek Fu (eds.) The Cold War and Asian Cinema, UK: Routledge, 2019
  3. “The Nation-State’s Other: Postcolonial Terrorism in the Indian Context,” Peter C. Herman (ed.) Terrorism and Literature (Cambridge Critical Concepts), Cambridge University Press, 2018, 110-127
  4. “Return and Retake: Stardom meets post-Partition trauma in Bengali cinema,” Mehta and Mookerjea-Leonard (eds.) Partition in Indian Literature and Films: History, Politics, Aesthetics (UK: Routledge, 2014), 167-183
  5. “Screening/Meaning: Hollywood’s Long Career in India,” Comparative American Studies, Volume 12, Nos. 1-2, June 2014, 94-99
  6. “In the Shadow of the Nations: Dissent as Discourse in Rabindranath Tagore’s Political Writings, 1914-41,” South Asia, Routledge UK, March 2012, 172-191
  7. “Ur-nationalist and Secular Mythologies: Popular Culture, Nationalist Historiography, and the Indian Past,” South Asian History and Culture, Routledge UK, Vol. 2 Number 4, October 2011, 572-588. Reprinted in Babli Sinha (ed.) South Asian Transnationalisms: Cultural Exchange in the Twentieth Century (Routledge, 2012)
  8. “Bollywood, Nation, Globalization: An Incomplete Introduction,” Mehta and Pandharipande (eds.) Bollywood and Globalization: Indian Popular Cinema, Nation, and Diaspora (UK: Anthem, 2010), 1-14
  9. “The Missionary Sannyasin and the Burden of the Colonized: the Reluctant Alliance between Religion and Nation in the Writings of Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902),” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (CSSAAME), Duke University Press, Volume 28 Number 2, 2008, 310-325


  1. Summer Faculty Fellowship, Humanities Research Institute, UIUC, 2024
  2. LAS Fellow in a Second Discipline, Training in Digital Methods for Humanists, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UIUC, 2021-2022
  3. Microsoft Grant support for Azure, 2021
  4. Public Voices Fellowship, 2019-2020 link, 2019-2021
  5. Faculty Fellow, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, UIUC, 2019-2020
  6. Presidential Initiative for Advancement of the Humanities and Arts, link, 2019-2021
  7. Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center Research Grant for Archival Research on Indian Cinema’s travels in the USSR, 2018
  8. Faculty Fellow, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, UIUC, 2018-2019
  9. Faculty Fellow, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, 2018-2019
  10. Research Board Grant, University of Illinois, Fall 2016
  11. Junior Faculty Fellow, Unit for Criticism, University of Illinois, 2014-2016
  12. Curricular Development Grant for Global Cinema, School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics, UIUC, Summer 2013
  13. Public Engagement Grant for Indian Cinema Centenary Event, UIUC, link


  1. CWL/MACS 207: Indian Cinema in Context link
  2. REL/CWL/ASST/SAME 208: Introduction to South Asian Cultures and Literatures
  3. CWL 441: Empires of the Novel
  4. CWL 451: International Film Genres and Auteurs
  5. CWL 189: Introduction to the Literatures of Asia and Africa



  • Rini Bhattacharya Mehta
  • Program in Comparative & World Literatures
  • University of Illinois
  • Foreign Languages Building
  • 707 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL
  • Phone: (217) 300-2724
  • Email: rbhttchr@illinois.edu