Cogut Institute for the Humanities

Catherine Nelli

2022–23 Undergraduate Fellow, Concentrator in Comparative Literature, Classics (Sanskrit), and International and Public Affairs (Security)
Project “Investigating Indology: Divergences between Colonial French and English and Contemporary Sanskrit Reception of Classical Indian Texts”
Last updated June 20, 2023, based on June 2022 biographical sketch


Catherine Nelli ’23 graduated from Brown magna cum laude, with honors in comparative literature and international and public affairs.

She is interested in researching the French and English colonial reception of classical Sanskrit texts in tension with the concurrent and continued indigenous reception of these texts. She hopes to investigate how colonialism has shaped the academic study of India by analyzing the convergences of European motivations and local intellectual traditions in this literary reception. Through her honors thesis, she hopes to complicate understandings of how colonialism shapes the present through literary, cultural, and intellectual forces. In addition, she is the content director of the Brown Journal of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and has carried out research on medieval French mythography; Sanskrit manuscript digitization; urban governance in Delhi, India; and verbal anaphors in A’ingae, an indigenous language of Ecuador and Colombia.

She received the Center for Contemporary South Asia Thesis Prize in South Asian Studies, the Richard C. Barker Award for work in international and public affairs, and a Watson Internship and Research Grant. She also received a Beneicke Scholarship to assist with continuing her work in graduate school, as well as a Fulbright-Nehru Student Research Award to India for 2023–24.

Meet the Fellows talk: “The Reception of Classical Indian Texts”