Meera Viswanathan was born in India and immigrated to the United States in 1961 to join her father who had moved to Los Angeles two years before to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at UCLA. Having earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Stanford University, Viswanathan’s academic research is in classical Japanese poetry and prose, Western medieval court literature, and comparative poetics. She is Associate Professor Emerita of East Asian Studies and Associate Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature at Brown University, as well as Head of School at the Ethel Walker School.
Viswanathan and her husband, Eric Widmer, cofounded King’s Academy in Madaba, Jordan, the Middle East’s first coeducational preparatory boarding school with financial aid. Viswanathan held the Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa Distinguished Chair in the Theory and Practice of Knowledge in 2007 as King Academy’s principal architect of curriculum, and was also dean of faculty there. Viswanathan was awarded the King Hussein Medal, Jordan’s highest honor, for her work. Viswanathan also received the John Rowe Workman Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Humanities from Brown University 1994-1996.