Ash Jayamohan

Thesis title: Under Pressure: Modernism and the Grasp


I have degrees in English literature from Stella Maris College, University of Madras (B.A.) and the University of Edinburgh (M.Sc.). I worked briefly in publishing and feminist research in New Delhi before returning to Edinburgh to begin my doctoral studies, supported by the University's Global Research Scholarship.

Alongside my Ph.D., I have worked on student engagement research, curriculum development, and EDI initiatives in higher education. 

Responsibilities & affiliations

I was a Reader for the James Tait Black Prize in Biography (2021-23).

I served as Editor-in-Chief (2022–23) and Deputy Editor (2021-22) at FORUM Journal. Based at the LLC, FORUM is the University's open-access and peer-reviewed postgraduate journal for culture and the arts.

I am a member of the stellar Edinburgh Life Writing Network.

Undergraduate teaching

  • Introduction to Queer Studies (ECA, 2020–23)
  • Literary Studies 1B (LLC, 2021–22)

Research summary

My doctoral project explores the 'grasp' in modernist writing, insofar as this everyday act serves, as Édouard Glissant writes, as an act of violence: "a gesture of enclosure if not appropriation". In my readings of D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, and Aubrey Menen, as well as Bhanu Kapil, the gesture of the grasp (of seizing, grabbing, and/or crushing something, like an idea, a stranger, a child, or sand) indexes the violence of 'knowing' within sexual-colonial modernity. The grasp, in these texts, seeks not only to diagnose, interpret, and manipulate as a form of governance, but also, crucially, seeks to preclude the freedom of the 'grasped' to know and be known otherwise (or not at all). The grasp therefore emerges in my project as the force of a will-to-know, collapsed into a will-to-possess: a truly coercive pressure on bodies that seem to desire, look, sense, and understand differently. Nonetheless, in the very same instance, my texts make palpable alternate modes of (not) knowing and being (not) known. I propose that their queerer pressures of relation (tactful; shared; withdrawn; passive) are able to defuse, if only ever provisionally, the grasp as modernity's governing gesture. For my study of the grasp, and how it indexes some of the violences of subject-formation as a matter of our relation to other people, I draw on Glissant and Roland Barthes, as well as psychoanalytical critiques of sovereign selfhood (especially after Jean Laplanche).

Project activity

I am the co-organiser of Fin de Sexe?: A Symposium on Sexuality (upcoming, June 2024), funded by the University of Edinburgh's Student Experiences Grant.

I was the co-editor of Scrap Lines (2021), a creative zine on marginalised knowledges ('queer trash'), also funded by the Student Experiences Grant.