Hallie Nell Swanson

PhD Candidate

231 Cohen Hall

Hallie is a third-year PhD student in the Religious Studies department at Penn, specializing in Islam in South Asia. She focuses on the relationship between Indo-Persian literary culture and Islamic ethics in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century North India, with a particular interest in material texts and embodied knowledge.

For the 2021-22 academic year, she is the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies Graduate Student Research Fellow, working with a set of narrative manuscripts now held in Philadelphia which were used to teach the Persian language in Indian schools. Her project draws on manuscript studies and digital humanities to map the circulation of these texts and how physical traces left by readers can be used to chart changes in the texts’ perceived meanings and status.

Prior to Penn, Hallie studied Urdu, Hindi and Persian literature and worked at the Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature at LUMS University in Lahore, Pakistan. She is currently learning Punjabi.


MSc, Modern South Asian Studies, University of Oxford


BA, Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University

Research Interests

- Persianate and Sufi literature
- literary culture
- manuscript studies
- Islamic Studies

Research Areas
- Islam
- Material and Visual Culture
- Politics and Publics
Courses Taught

Fall 2021: Teaching Assistant, “Introduction to Buddhism”

Spring 2021: Teaching Assistant, "Satan" 

Fall 2020: Teaching Assistant, “Religion of Anime”