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Faculty Profile

Sheela Jane Menon

(she/her/hers)Assistant Professor of English (2016)

Contact Information

menons@dickinson.edu

East College Room 414
717-254-8719

Bio

Sheela Jane’s research centers on questions of race and identity in Malaysian literature and culture, and is informed by her upbringing in Malaysia, Singapore, and Honolulu. Her current book project, Malaysian Multiculturalism: Reading Race in Contemporary Literature & Culture, analyzes a new cultural archive from Malaysia consisting of Indigenous (Orang Asal) oral histories and multimedia texts, as well as novels, films, and public performances by Malay, Chinese, and Indian artists. This project examines how cultural producers are reimagining multicultural citizenship across a diverse range of genres and contexts. Her work has been published in ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, The Diplomat, The Conversation, and New Mandala. In the classroom, Sheela Jane teaches Asian American, Postcolonial, and World Literature.

Education

  • B.A., The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 2008
  • M.A., The University of Texas at Austin, 2013
  • Ph.D., 2016,

2023-2024 Academic Year

Fall 2023

ENGL 220 Intro to Literary Studies
In literary studies, we explore the work texts do in the world. This course examines several texts of different kinds (e.g., novel, poetry, film, comic book, play, etc.) to investigate how literary forms create meanings. It also puts texts in conversation with several of the critical theories and methodologies that shape the discipline of literary study today (e.g., Marxist theory, new historicism, formalism, gender theory, postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, etc.). This course helps students frame interpretive questions and develop their own critical practice. Prerequisite: 101. This course is the prerequisite for 300-level work in English.

ENGL 321 Lit of Migration & Displacemnt
This course examines contemporary literature that has emerged from complex histories of displacement, migration, war, and exile, and analyzes how these histories continue to shape texts and communities around the world. We will focus on 20th and 21st century literature that spans countries including: Palestine, Syria, Central America, Vietnam, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Our readings may include: Susan Muaddi Darraj's, The Inheritance of Exile (2007); selections from Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline (2014), edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, and Nawara Mahfoud; Valeri Luiselli's Tell Me How it Ends (2017), and Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer (2016). Guided by Postcolonial and Cultural Studies methodologies, we will examine how race, class, gender, and politics influence the movements of people across the globe.

Spring 2024

ENGL 101 World Lit: Race, Nat & Coloniz
What does it mean to imagine yourself as a member of a nation? What happens when nations are fractured and reconstituted? Where do you belong if you move between nations or are forcibly displaced? This course considers how contemporary works of literature from Polynesia, Asia Pacific, South Asia, and the Middle East respond to these questions. We will focus on 20th and 21st century literature by authors including Haunani-Kay Trask, Albert Wendt, Tash Aw, Rohinton Mistry, Leila Ahmed, and Rasha Abbas. Through close and contextualized readings, we will analyze how these authors imagine individuals and families within and across nations, and how their worlds are shaped by intersecting identities. In so doing, we will focus on the specific political and literary histories from which each text emerges, particularly experiences of Western colonization in each of the designated regions. By bringing these texts and contexts together, we will engage histories of both colonization and resistance, while also examining how new conceptions of nation and identity emerge from this selection of World Literature.

ENGL 331 Global Sci Fic & Fantasy
How are writers imagining alternative pasts and futures? More specifically, how are writers of color and Indigenous writers from around the world imagining these alternatives through science fiction and fantasy? This course examines the genre of "speculative fiction," focusing on work by authors such as Nnedi Okorafor, Sofia Samatar, Ken Liu, Gerald Vizenor, Robert Sullivan, and Leslie Marmon Silko. We will consider what themes and formal features characterize science fiction/fantasy, and how these writers have embraced, challenged, or reframed them. In so doing, we will examine how this body of work might constitute an act of literary resistance. Students will engage a range of scholarship on speculative fiction, as well as critical methodologies drawn from Postcolonial Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Native American Studies, and Critical Race Studies.