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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. Sheela Jane was appointed to Governor Tom Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs in December 2019.

Education

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

2021-2022 Academic Year

Fall 2021

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 Science Fiction
How have writers imagined alternative pasts and futures? More specifically, how have writers from around the world imagined these alternatives through science fiction? This course examines the genre of science fiction, focusing on work by a diverse range of authors including Octavia Butler, Nick Harkaway, Ursula Le Guin, Robert Heinlein, Nalo Hopkinson, N. K. Jemison, H. P. Lovecraft, Nnedi Okorafor, Chang-rae Lee, Vandana Singh, and Dan Simmons. We will consider how science fiction has developed as a genre and a writing community, and how these writers have reinforced, challenged, or reframed its evolving norms. Students will engage a range of scholarship on speculative fiction, as well as theories drawn from Genre, Postcolonial, Critical Race, and Gender and Sexuality Studies, as well as History of the Book. In using these theories as lenses through which to read science fiction, we will analyze how the genre reimagines systems of power tied to race, gender, class, sexuality, technology, business enterprise, and political organization.