Louise Durham Mead Professor of English & Wole Soyinka Professor of the Humanities
6181 Helen C. White Hall & 1470 Van Hise
- African and African diaspora, postcolonial, drama
Degrees and Institutions
- PhD, Cornell University, 1991
- MA, Cornell University, 1989
- M. A., University of Ife, Nigeria, 1985
- BA, University of Ife, Nigeria, 1982
- Taking African Cartoons Seriously: Politics, Satire, and Culture. Co-edited with Peter Limb. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2018.
- State and Culture in Postcolonial Africa: Enchantings. Edited. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017.
- “Africa and the Post-Global,” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry Volume 3.3 (2016), & Volume 4.2 (2017).
- Special Topic: Contemporary African Drama and Theatre. Co-edited with Femi Osofisan and Don Rubin. Critical Stages, Issue 15 (June 2017). http://www.critical-stages.org/15/
- Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique (co-edited with Ronald Radano & Tejumola Olaniyan, Eds.; Duke University Press, 2016)
- African Diaspora and the Disciplines (co-edited with James H. Sweet, 2010)
- African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory (co-edited with Ato Quayson; Blackwell 2007)
- Arrest the Music!: Fela and His Rebel Art and Politics (Indiana UP, 2004; New & Expanded Edition, BookCraft, 2009; nominated for Best Research in World Music by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections in 2005)
- Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African American and Caribbean Drama (Oxford UP, 1995)
- African Drama and Performance (co-edited with John Conteh Morgan, Indiana UP, 2004)
- Editor, “On ‘Post-Colonial Discourse’: A Special Issue,” Callaloo 16.4 (Fall 1993)
- several book chapters and articles in journals such as Cultural Critique, Transition, Research in African Literatures, Theatre Journal, African American Review, Social Dynamics, Callaloo, etc.
African, African American, and Caribbean literatures; postcolonial cultural studies; genre studies—history, theory, and sociology of drama; popular culture studies—art, music, and architecture.
My deep interest is transdisciplinary teaching and research; my goal is the cultivation of critical self-reflexivity about our expressions and their many contexts.
Olaniyan (Co-editor), T. Taking African Cartoons Seriously: Politics, Satire, and Culture. Michigan State University Press, 2018.
Cartoonists make us laugh—and think—by caricaturing daily events and politics. The essays, interviews, and cartoons presented in this innovative book vividly demonstrate the rich diversity of cartooning across Africa and highlight issues facing its cartoonists today, such as sociopolitical trends, censorship, and use of new technologies. Celebrated African cartoonists including Zapiro of South Africa, Gado of Kenya, and Asukwo of Nigeria join top scholars and a new generation of scholar-cartoonists from the fields of literature, comic studies and fine arts, animation studies, social sciences, and history to take the analysis of African cartooning forward. Taking African Cartoons Seriously presents critical thematic studies to chart new approaches to how African cartoonists trade in fun, irony, and satire. The book brings together the traditional press editorial cartoon with rapidly diverging subgenres of the art in the graphic novel and animation, and applications on social media. Interviews with bold and successful cartoonists provide insights into their work, their humor, and the dilemmas they face. This book will delight and inform readers from all backgrounds, providing a highly readable and visual introduction to key cartoonists and styles, as well as critical engagement with current themes to show where African political cartooning is going and why.Read more
Olaniyan (Editor), T. State and Culture in Postcolonial Africa: Enchantings. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017.
How has the state impacted culture and cultural production in Africa? How has culture challenged and transformed the state and our understandings of its nature, functions, and legitimacy? Compelled by complex realities on the ground as well as interdisciplinary scholarly debates on the state-culture dynamic, senior scholars and emerging voices examine the intersections of the state, culture, and politics in postcolonial Africa in this lively and wide-ranging volume. The coverage here is continental and topics include literature, politics, philosophy, music, religion, theatre, film, television, sports, child trafficking, journalism, city planning, and architecture. Together, the essays provide an energetic and nuanced portrait of the cultural forms of politics and the political forms of culture in contemporary Africa.Read more
Audible Empire rethinks the processes and mechanisms of empire and shows how musical practice has been crucial to its spread around the globe. Music is a means of comprehending empire as an audible formation, and the contributors highlight how it has been circulated, consumed, and understood through imperial logics. These fifteen interdisciplinary essays cover large swaths of genre, time, politics, and geography, and include topics such as the affective relationship between jazz and cigarettes in interwar China; the sonic landscape of the U.S.– Mexico border; the critiques of post-9/11 U.S. empire by desi rappers; and the role of tonality in the colonization of Africa. Whether focusing on Argentine tango, theorizing anticolonialist sound, or examining the music industry of postapartheid South Africa, the contributors show how the audible has been a central component in the creation of imperialist notions of reason, modernity, and culture. In doing so, they allow us to hear how empire is both made and challenged.
Contributors: Kofi Agawu, Philip V. Bohlman. Michael Denning, Brent Hayes Edwards, Nan Enstad, Andrew Jones, Josh Kun, Morgan Luker, Jairo Moreno, Tejumola Olaniyan, Marc Perry, Ronald Radano, Nitasha Sharma, Micol Seigel, Gavin Steingo, Penny Von Eschen, Amanda Weidman.Read more
(Editor), J. H. S., and T. Olaniyan (Editor). The African Diaspora and the Disciplines. Indiana University Press, 2010.
Focusing on the problems and conflicts of doing African diaspora research from various disciplinary perspectives, these essays situate, describe, and reflect on the current practice of diaspora scholarship. Tejumola Olaniyan, James H. Sweet, and the international group of contributors assembled here seek to enlarge understanding of how the diaspora is conceived and explore possibilities for the future of its study. With the aim of initiating interdisciplinary dialogue on the practice of African diaspora studies, they emphasize learning from new perspectives that take advantage of intersections between disciplines. Ultimately, they advocate a fuller sense of what it means to study the African diaspora in a truly global way.Read more
This is the first anthology to bring together the key texts of African literary theory and criticism. Covers all genres and critical schools. Provides the intellectual context for understanding African literature. Facilitates the future development of African literary criticism.Read more
(Editor), J. C.-M., and T. Olaniyan (Editor). African Drama and Performance. Indiana University Press, 2004.
African Drama and Performance is a collection of innovative and wide-ranging essays that bring conceptually fresh perspectives, from both renowned and emerging voices, to the study of drama, theatre, and performance in Africa. Topics range from studies of major dramatic authors and formal literary dramas to improvisational theatre and popular video films. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are analyzed as a kind of social performance, and aspects of African performance in the diaspora are also considered. This dynamic volume underscores theatre’s role in postcolonial society and politics and reexamines performance as a form of high art and everyday social ritual. Contributors are Akin Adesokan, Daniel Avorgbedor, Karin Barber, Nicholas Brown, Catherine Cole, John Conteh-Morgan, Johannes Fabian, Joachim Fiebach, Marie-José Hourantier, Loren Kruger, Pius Ngandu Nkashama, Isidore Okpewho, Tejumola Olaniyan, Ato Quayson, Sandra L. Richards, Wole Soyinka, Dominic Thomas, and Bob W. White.Read more
“Olaniyan has given us a profound and beautifully integrated book which culminates in a persuasive interpretation of the relationship between Fela’s apparently incompatible presentational selves. . . . The book’s accessible and evocative prose is in itself a kind of homage to Fela’s continual ability to seduce and astonish. . . . This is such an attractive book you feel like . . . ransacking your collection for Fela tapes.” —Karin Barber
“ . . . an indispensable companion to Fela’s music and a rich source of information for studies in modern African popular music.” —Akin Euba
Arrest the Music! is a lively musical study of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, one of Africa’s most recognizable, popular, and controversial musicians. The flamboyant originator of the “Afrobeat” sound and self-proclaimed voice of the voiceless, Fela used music, sharp-tongued lyrics, and derisive humor to challenge the shortcomings of Nigerian and postcolonial African states. Looking at the social context, instrumentation, lyrics, visual art, people, and organizations through which Fela produced his music, Tejumola Olaniyan offers a wider, more suggestive perspective on Fela and his impact on listeners in all parts of the world. Placing Fela front and center, Olaniyan underscores important social issues such as authenticity, racial and cultural identity, the relationship of popular culture to radical politics, and the meaning of postcolonialism, nationalism, and globalism in contemporary Africa. Readers interested in music, culture, society, and politics, whether or not they know Fela and his music, will find this work invaluable for understanding the career of an African superstar and the politics of popular culture in contemporary Africa.Read more
Olaniyan, T. Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama. Oxford University Press, 1995.
This original work redefines and broadens our understanding of the drama of the English-speaking African diaspora. Looking closely at the work of Amiri Baraka, Nobel prize-winners Wole Soyinka and Derek Walcott, and Ntozake Shange, the author contends that the refashioning of the collective cultural self in black drama originates from the complex intersection of three discourses: Eurocentric, Afrocentric, and Post-Afrocentric. From blackface minstrelsy to the Trinidad Carnival, from the Black Aesthetic to the South African Black Consciousness theatres and the scholarly debate on the (non)existence of African drama, Olaniyan cogently maps the terrains of a cultural struggle and underscores a peculiar situation in which the inferiorization of black performance forms is most often a shorthand for subordinating black culture and corporeality. Drawing on insights from contemporary theory and cultural studies, and offering detailed readings of the above writers, Olaniyan shows how they occupy the interface between the Afrocentric and a liberating Post-Afrocentric space where black theatrical-cultural difference could be envisioned as a site of multiple articulations: race, class, gender, genre, and language.Read more