Faculty Profile

Sheela Jane Menon

Assistant Professor of English (2016)

Contact Information

menons@dickinson.edu

Historic President's House 2nd Fl, Room 6
717.254.8719

Bio

Sheela Jane’s research centers on questions of race and identity in Malaysian literature and culture. Her current book project, “Rakyat Malaysia: Contesting Nationalism and Exceptional Multiculturalism,” maps the contradictions of Malaysian multiculturalism through integrated readings of Indigenous Orang Asli/Orang Asal activism alongside Malaysian literature, film, theatre, and political rhetoric. In the classroom, she teaches Postcolonial, Asian American, and World Literature, focusing in particular on how texts engage histories of colonization and resistance. Her writing on Malaysian politics has been published by The Conversation and The Malaysian Insider. Sheela Jane's research and teaching are informed by her upbringing in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Honolulu.

Education

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

2018-2019 Academic Year

Fall 2018

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 321 Border Cross: Asian, Am Lit
This course explores the various borders and border crossings that emerge across 20th and 21st century Asian American literature by writers including Celeste Ng, Carlos Bulosan, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, lê thi diem thúy, and John Okada. Our examination of these texts will be framed by the following questions: What kinds of borders are imagined in these texts? How do these borders intersect with the realities of actual geopolitical borders and immigration acts? How do race, gender, citizenship, and class influence the ways in which characters and communities negotiate these borders? We will unpack how literary texts articulate diverse immigrant experiences and engage the tensions of both real and imagined border crossings. In the process, this course will also explore the very definition of “Asian American,” considering the communities that are included and excluded from this collective, as well as their specific socio-political histories.

ENGL 403 Questions/Methods of Lit St
In preparation for the Senior Thesis Workshop, this course will examine several important methods of writing, research, and analysis in literary studies. We will explore how critical conversations have developed and evolved within the discipline, and how they can help you shape your own research and writing. Our course will be anchored in a primary text—Chinua Achebe’s classic novel of African and world literature, Things Fall Apart (1958)—through which we will engage, among others, postcolonial, critical race, and cultural studies approaches to literary studies. Students will begin to formulate ideas about their own research interests while also building vital writing and analytical skills grounded in the diverse methodologies of our discipline.

Spring 2019

WRPG 211 Multicult: Race/Rhet/Writing
Cross-listed with ENGL 221-01. Multiculturalism is often celebrated as the ideal approach to managing racial, cultural, and religious differences within society. However, this concept has also been critiqued for the ways in which it masks systemic inequalities and deep-seated prejudices. Focusing on questions of race, power, and privilege, this course will examine narratives of multiculturalism in the United States, Canada, and Malaysia. Over the course of the semester, students will read and respond to a diverse range of sources including: poetry, fiction, scholarly essays, advertising campaigns, political speeches, and national laws. In addition to engaging these texts and contexts through ongoing class discussions and debates, students will also produce formal and creative essays, opinion pieces, and an interdisciplinary research project. This course aims to help students strengthen their analytical writing, critical thinking, and close reading skills, thereby enabling them to understand and critique how multiculturalism has shaped the lived experiences of communities around the world.

ENGL 221 Multicult: Race/Reht/Writing
Cross-listed with WRPG 211-01. Multiculturalism is often celebrated as the ideal approach to managing racial, cultural, and religious differences within society. However, this concept has also been critiqued for the ways in which it masks systemic inequalities and deep-seated prejudices. Focusing on questions of race, power, and privilege, this course will examine narratives of multiculturalism in the United States, Canada, and Malaysia. Over the course of the semester, students will read and respond to a diverse range of sources including: poetry, fiction, scholarly essays, advertising campaigns, political speeches, and national laws. In addition to engaging these texts and contexts through ongoing class discussions and debates, students will also produce formal and creative essays, opinion pieces, and an interdisciplinary research project. This course aims to help students strengthen their analytical writing, critical thinking, and close reading skills, thereby enabling them to understand and critique how multiculturalism has shaped the lived experiences of communities around the world.

ENGL 404 Senior Thesis Workshop
A workshop requiring students to share discoveries and problems as they produce a lengthy manuscript based on a topic of their own choosing, subject to the approval of the instructor. Prerequisites: 300 and 403.