Faculty Profile

Sheela Jane Menon

Assistant Professor of English (2016)

Contact Information

menons@dickinson.edu

East College Room 403
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,

2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017

ENGL 101 Asian American Literature
This course will explore the various borders and border crossings that emerge across 20th and 21st century Asian American literature by writers including John Okada, Adrienne Su, Kazim Ali, Carlos Bulosan, and lê thi diem thúy. 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 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. This course is the prerequisite for 300-level work in English.

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.

Spring 2018

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 North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. 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 North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. 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 321 Lit of Migration & Displacemnt
Students who took ENGL 381 "Literature of The Global South" in Spring 2017 with Professor Menon may NOT take this class due to content overlap. 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 21st century literature that spans the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Palestine, Syria, Ghana, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Our readings will include: Tash Aw’s The Face: Strangers on a Pier (2015), Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer (2016); Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go (2013); the letters of Sayed Kashua and Etgar Keret (2014); short stories from Mia Alvar’s In the Country (2015) and Susan Muaddi Darraj’s, The Inheritance of Exile (2007); and excerpts from Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline (2014), edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen, and Nawara Mahfoud. Guided by Postcolonial and Cultural Studies methodologies, we will examine how race, class, gender, and politics influence the movements of people across the globe.