Ethnic and Third World Literature
Ethnic and Third World Literature

Sheela Jane Menon


Assistant Instructor - Department of English & Center for Asian American Studies
Sheela Jane Menon

Contact

Interests


Malaysian & Southeast Asian Literature / Gender, Race & National Identity / Postcolonial & Asian American Studies / Critical Race Theory

Biography


 

Sheela Jane Menon is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from Malaysia, Sheela Jane completed a B.A. in English (Highest Honors) and a B.A. in Religion at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She earned her Master's degree from UT Austin in May 2013, completing an M.A. report entitled: "The Gift of Rain: Reimagining Masculinity, Ethnicity, and Identity in Malaysia." Working within the Ethnic & Third World Literatures specialization at UT, her research interests center around questions of race and nationalism in Malaysian literature and popular culture. Her dissertation - Rakyat Malaysia: Contesting Narratives of Malaysian Nationalism and Exceptional Multiculturalism - maps the contradictions of Malaysian multiculturalism through a close reading of Indigenous activism, contemporary literature and film, public performance, and political campaigns. Sheela Jane's research and teaching interests bridge Postcolonial Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Asian American Studies. 

 

PUBLICATIONS


Book Reviews

Review of The Female Cell by Rumaizah Abu Bakar. E3W Review of Books 12 (Spring 2012)

Review of Yasmin Ahmad's Films by Amir Muhammad. E3W Review of Books 13 (Spring 2013)

Encyclopedia Article (Forthcoming)

“Malaysian American Culture,” in Encyclopedia of Asian American Culture: From Anime to Tiger Moms. ABC-CLIO.

Article in Edited Collection (Forthcoming)

“Malaysia’s Most Celebrated War Heroine: Femininity, Agency, & Subaltern Identity in No Dram of Mercy,” in Shades of the Subaltern (Co-Editor & Contributor). Carolina Academic Press.

OpEds

"Malaysians Worldwide Demand Prime Minister's Resignation." The Conversation, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 

"Najib & Barisan - Failing 1Malaysia." The Malaysian Insider, 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 

 

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

2016 MLA Annual Convention - Jan 2016 / "Land, Culture, Community: Narratives of Indigenous Activism in Malaysia," Chair & Panelist, (Austin, Texas)

2015 MLA Annual Convention - Jan 2015 / "The Gift of Rain: Reimagining Masculinity, Ethnicity, and Identity in Malaysia" (Vancouver, Canada)

2014 Rhetoric Society of America Conference - May 2014 / "Playing in the Shadows: Embodying the Contact Zones of Malaysian National Culture" (San Antonio, Texas)

The Texas Asia Conference - Nov. 2013 / “Commodifying Race, Consuming the Nation: Tracing the Contours of the ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ Campaign.” (UT Austin)

The Africa Conference - Mar. 2012 / “Ethnicity, Gender, and Subaltern Identity: Exploring Narratives of the Japanese Occupation of Malaya.” (UT Austin)

47th Annual Western Literature Association Conference - Nov. 2012 “La Virgen de Guadalupe in The Moths & Other Stories: Reimagining Femininity, Spirituality, and Female Solidarity.” (Texas Tech University)

8th Annual Graduate Conference in Comparative Lit. Sept. 2011 / “Bush & bin Laden: Identity in Crisis.” (UT Austin)

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute - Jul. 2011 / “Southeast Asia / Malaysia Through a Literary Lens.” (Reserach Assistant / Co-Presenter) (East West Center, UHM)

 

HONORS/AWARDS

Outstanding Assistant Instructor Award, The University of Texas at Austin, Aug. 2015

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, The University of Texas at Austin, Aug. 2013

Graduate Studies Professional Development Award, The University of Texas at Austin, Dec. 2012 & Dec. 2014

Graduate School Diversity Recruitment Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin, Aug. 2011 – May 2012

Rev. David Schuyler Advisor of the Year, Chaminade University of Honolulu, April 2010

Staff Member of the Year, Chaminade University of Honolulu, April 2010

Phi Beta Kappa, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, May 2008

Regents’ Scholarship, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Aug. 2004 – May 2008

 

Courses


E 314V • Asian American Lit & Culture

33895 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.120
(also listed as AAS 314)

Flags: Cultural Diversity in the U.S. and Writing

As the United States slowly emerges from the global recession of 2009, debates over immigration, the debt ceiling, education, and development loom large. In many, if not all, of these areas different minority populations bear the burden of changing policies and budgets, even as their labor and cultural production continue to sustain the nation. The 2012 US Census reported that Asians were the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States that year, rising from 530,000 in 2011 to almost 19 million in 2012. As a population that has made and continues to make significant contributions to the American economy and American culture more broadly, Asian Americans face an ongoing struggle to assert a sense of belonging in the United States. As a community and as individuals, they must continually negotiate the tensions between life in the United States and ties to their “cultural homelands.” The intersection of “American culture” and “Asian culture” is further complicated by assumptions about how Asian Americans are or are not “at home” in the United States.

This course will explore how Asian American literature attempts to negotiate these tensions. Through a close reading of selected 20th and 21st century Asian American literature, this course will analyze how Asian Americans have worked to resist their exclusion from American culture and politics. We will attempt to unpack the ways in which literary texts assert belonging, negotiate the immigrant experience, and balance the demands of different cultural traditions. 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. In doing so, we will pay close attention to the socio-political histories that inform this category, as well as how the experiences of Asian Americans are shaped by citizenship, class, gender, and sexuality. Various critical perspectives – such as post-colonialism, US legal history, feminism, and popular culture – will inform our readings and analyses.

Over the course of the semester, students will complete four short reading responses, two short essays, and a final essay, in addition to in-class assignments and quizzes. This course carries both a writing flag and a cultural diversity flag.

E 376M • Contemp Asian Amer Novels

34940 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 101
(also listed as AAS 320)

Flag: Cultural Diversity in the U.S.

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Concerns over borders and border crossings continue to inform conversations about immigration, identity, nationhood, and sexuality. This course explores the various borders and border crossings that emerge across works of 20th and 21st century Asian American literature. What kinds of borders are present in these texts? How do Asian American characters negotiate these borders? How do ethnicity, gender, citizenship, and class influence both the construction and destruction of borders? In exploring these questions, this course will seek to discuss literary texts in relation to critical frameworks such as post-colonialism, US legal history, feminism, and cultural studies. This course also attempts to explore the kinds of boundaries that have been erected between different Asian American groups and between Asian Americans and other minority groups in the United States.

TEXTS:

Literature

Carlos Bulosan, America is in the Heart (1973)

Hisaye Yamamoto, selections from Seventeen Syllables & Other Stories (1988)

Gish Jen, Typical American (1991)

Fae Myenne Ng, Bone (1993)

Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Among the White Moonfaces (1996)

R. Zamora Linmark, Rolling the R’s (1997)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, selections from The Unknown Errors of our Lives (2001)

lê thi diem thúy, The Gangster We Are All Looking For (2004)

Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth (2008)

Criticism

Gloria Anzaldúa. Borderlands/La Frontera (1987)

Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (1996)

---. “Work, Immigration, Gender: New Subjects of Cultural Politics.” The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital (1997)

Arif Dirlik, Selections from What’s In a Rim? Critical Perspectives on the Pacific Region Idea (1998)

David Palumbo-Liu. Asian/American: Historical Crossings of a Racial Frontier (1999)

Amitava Kumar, Passport Photos (2000)

Elena Tajima Creef, Imaging Japanese America: The Visual Construction of Citizenship, Nation, and the Body      (2004)

Linda Martín Alcoff. “Latinos, Asian Americans, and the Black-White Binary.” Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self (2006)

E 314V • Asian American Lit & Culture

35125 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.202
(also listed as AAS 314)

Fall 2014 – E 314V / AAS 314

Asian American Literature & Culture

Sheela Jane Menon • sjmenon@utexas.edu

Flags: Cultural Diversity in the U.S. and Writing

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

As the United States slowly emerges from the global recession of 2009, debates over immigration, the debt ceiling, education, and development loom large. In many, if not all, of these areas different minority populations bear the burden of changing policies and budgets, even as their labor and cultural production continue to sustain the nation. The 2012 US Census reported that Asians were the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States that year, rising from 530,000 in 2011 to almost 19 million in 2012. As a population that has made and continues to make significant contributions to the American economy and American culture more broadly, Asian Americans face an ongoing struggle to assert a sense of belonging in the United States. As a community and as individuals, they must continually negotiate the tensions between life in the United States and ties to their “cultural homelands.” The intersection of “American culture” and “Asian culture” is further complicated by assumptions about how Asian Americans are or are not “at home” in the United States.

This course will explore how Asian American literature attempts to negotiate these tensions. Through a close reading of selected 20th and 21st century Asian American literature, this course will analyze how Asian Americans have worked to resist their exclusion from American culture and politics. We will attempt to unpack the ways in which literary texts assert belonging, negotiate the immigrant experience, and balance the demands of different cultural traditions. 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. In doing so, we will pay close attention to the socio-political histories that inform this category, as well as how the experiences of Asian Americans are shaped by citizenship, class, gender, and sexuality. Various critical perspectives – such as post-colonialism, US legal history, feminism, and popular culture – will inform our readings and analyses.

Over the course of the semester, students will complete four short reading responses, two short essays, and a final essay, in addition to in-class assignments and quizzes. This course carries both a writing flag and a cultural diversity flag.

PROPOSED READING LIST

Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (1976)

John Okada, No-no Boy (1979)

Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre (1993)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, selections from Arranged Marriage (1995)

Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Joss & Gold (2001)

Don Lee, selections from Yellow (2002)

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake (2003)

Monique Truong, Bitter in the Mouth (2010)

R. Zamora Linmark, Leche (2011)

RHE F306 • Rhetoric And Writing

87215 • Summer 2014
Meets MTWTHF 10:00AM-11:30AM PAR 204

Multiple meeting times and sections. Please consult the Course Schedule for unique numbers.

This does NOT meet the Writing Flag requirement.

This composition course provides instruction in the gathering and evaluation of information and its presentation in well-organized expository prose. Students ordinarily write and revise four papers. The course includes instruction in invention, arrangement, logic, style, revision, and strategies of research.

Course centered around the First-Year Forum (FYF) book, What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel. Students focus on the foundational knowledge and skills needed for college writing. In addition, they are introduced to basic rhetoric terms and learn to rhetorically analyze positions within controversies surrounding the FYF book.

RHE 306 is required of all UT students. Contact the Measurement and Evaluation Center, 2616 Wichita (471-3032) to petition for RHE 306 credit.

TEACHING


Assistant Instructor, E314V/AAS 314: Asian American Lit. & Culture

    Fall 2015

Assistant Instructor, E376M/AAS320: Asian American Novels

   Spring 2015

Assistant Instructor, E314V/AAS 314: Asian American Lit. & Culture

    Fall 2014

Assistant Instructor, RHE 306: Rhetoric & Writing

    Fall 2013 - Summer 2014

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of American Literature

     Dr. Phil Barrish, Summer 2013

Senior Teaching Assistant, E347L: Young Adult Fiction & Film

     Dr. Domino Perez, Spring 2013

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of American Literature

     Dr. Jennifer Wilks, Fall 2012

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of American Literature

     Dr. John González, Summer 2012

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of British Literature

     Dr. Douglas Bruster, Spring 2012

Teaching Assistant, E376M: Illustrating African American Literature

     Dr. Meta Jones, Spring 2012

Teaching Assistant, E316K: Masterworks of British Literature

     Dr. Douglas Bruster, Fall 2011

Curriculum Vitae


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