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Neelika Jayawardane

Associate Professor


304B Marano Campus Center


Class website

Office hours

Spring 2017
Tuesday & Thursday 12:45-2:00 pm 
or by timely appointment
Email professor 24hr. in advance.

Neelika Jayawardane

M. Neelika Jayawardane is Associate Professor of English at the State University of New York-Oswego, and senior editor and contributor to the online magazine, Africa is a Country. She is an Honorary Research Associate at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA), University of Witwatersrand (South Africa).  

Jayawardane was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in the Copperbelt Province in Zambia, and completed her university education in the US. Her academic publications focus on the nexus between South African literature, photography, and the transnational/transhistorical implications of colonialism and apartheid on the body. Her most recent publications include "'Forget Maps': Countering Global Apartheid, Creating Novel Cartographies in Ishtiyaq Shukri's The Silent Minaret" in Research in African Literatures (2013) and a book chapter, "'Scandalous Memoir': Uncovering Silences and Reclaiming the 'Disappeared' in Mahvish Rukhsana Kahn's My Guantánamo Diary" in Transatlantic Literature and Culture After 9/11: The Wrong Side of Paradise (Palgrave McMillan, 2014). She also publishes regularly on photography and art, the most recent of which includes an essay on apartheid-era photography exhibit at the International Center for Photography in Manhattan in Art South Africa; "Cartography without Frontiers: The Body, the Border, and the Desert in Sama Alshaibi's Artwork" in Contemporary Practices: Visual Art from the Middle East; and "Everyone's Got Their Indian: A Photographic History of South Africa's Asians" in Transitions.  


'Scandalous Memoir': Uncovering Silences and Reclaiming the 'Disappeared' in Mahvish Rukhsana Kahn's My Guantánamo Diary."Transatlantic Literature and Culture After 9/11: The Wrong Side of Paradise ed. Kristine A. Miller. Palgrave McMillan, 2014. (Book Chapter)

'Forget Maps': Countering Global Apartheid, Creating Novel Cartographies in Ishtiyaq Shukri's 
The Silent Minaret" Research in African Literatures. Volume 45, Number 1, Spring 2014, pp. 1-23.  


  • November 2014: National Women's Studies Association Conference. Panel: "Violent Geographies: Transnational Representations of Gender, War, and Resistance". Paper: "Re-Telling the Nation: Dangerous Disclosures in South African Women's Memoirs". San Juan, Puerto Rico.

  • November 2014: 57thAnnual African Studies Association Conference. Panel (Chair): "Winnie Madikizela Mandela: Reflections on the Mother of the Nation". Paper: "Winnie and the Camera: Fashioning an Impenetrable Armature." Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • March 2014: American Comparative Literature Association Conference. Panel: "The Comic Mask: Theorizing Satire, Humor and Laughter in South African Culture". Paper: "Untranslatable Caricatures: South Africa's Cartoonists' Reliance on Racist Tropes."

  • January 2014: 129th MLA Annual Convention, Chicago, 5-8 January 2014.

    (a) Panel: "Space and Belonging in Post-9/11 US American Literature": "'Scandalous Memoir': Uncovering Silences and Reclaiming the Disappeared in Mahvish Rukhsana Kahn's My Guantánamo Diary."

    (b) Panel: "Expatriation, Authorship, and Reception in African Literatures": "Relocating the Expatriated Self in the 'New' South Africa: Memoirs of Indian South Africans."

  • March 2013: Organised and Chaired Panel: "Re-Inscribing the Self: Memoirs, Self-Narrative, Testimony and Contemporary African Writers." Literature, Liberation, and the Law: The 39th annual conference of the African Literature Association (Charleston, South Carolina)

  • Jan. 2013: "Meditation on the Terrorist: Daisy Rockwell's The Little Book of Terror." 128th MLA Annual Convention, Boston, Massachusetts, 5-8 January 2013. Panel: Human Rights in U.S. Literature and Beyond. 

Classes taught

Spring 2017 Courses

ENG 204/830

TR 9:35-10:55 223 Marano CC
ENG 360/800 TR 2:20-3:40 323 Marano CC
ENG 365/810 TR 11:10-12:30 223 Marano CC

ENG 204-

ENG 360-Typically when we speak of literature, we speak of ‘national’ literatures like British, American, or French literature, or of broader regional entities like ‘Western’ literature or ‘Latin American’ literature. But there have also been attempts to think of literature in a global setting – as travellers and migrants, taking ideas, goods, customs, reading habits with them as they move from continent to continent. Thinking globally has become only more urgent with the increasing technological advances of this century. And being critical readers, thinkers, and writers in this competitive new world of fast-moving Netizens is essential to being a successful and dynamic graduate, no matter where your degree will take you. The purpose of this course is to help students become more globally-aware by exploring a selection of contemporary literature—novels and memoirs different from the ‘classics’ to which you may have been previously exposed—helping us understand the individual’s role in rapidly evolving societies and landscapes. The novels and memoirs we read in this class will help us become critical thinkers and help us understand the individual’s role in society. We will read also learn how to respond to though our own informed, well-designed, and well-researched writing.

Assignments will include the use of literary discussion to structure well-reasoned arguments, using standard English grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure in order to write excellent analytical papers. It’s not a course designed to teach you basic grammar and mechanics. I’m so aware of the competition you will be up against from students in other parts of the world that I can’t permit the usual whining and the regular rounds of excuses. Arrive with a strong work ethic and respect for the education for which you are paying—think of the class as a job, and preparation for the working world.

ENG 365-Many of you may have never read a book by an African author. Don’t be afraid. The books we read in this course are going to surprise you in terms of subject matter, style, and poetic language. Together, we will develop a greater appreciation of cultural, thematic, and aesthetic differences in contemporary African Literature, produced by a particular author -- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We will begin by discussing how themes addressed and styles of writing used differ markedly from that of the writers from the early 1960s, when many African Writers wrote polemically against the abuses of their colonial powers, and responded to the transformations and disappointments that came with political independence -- then address the differences inherent in our author's works. We will also familiarise ourselves with the scholarship surrounding Adichie, as well as the writing she produces on blogs, her public talks (available on video), and in popular (and literary) publications.

We will explore the issues that preoccupy the characters in each text, understanding the world in the book as a reflection of real life in the contexts that they are written. As with any advanced literary study, we will read critical and analytical papers about each author’s works to help contextualise our reading; these papers will, in turn, help you as you write your research paper. In addition, we may also explore art and photography produced by contemporary artists from the locale (Lagos, Nigeria and West Africa in general), to look at the ways in which written texts and image narratives work together or contradict each other.