Ato Quayson: UG Alumnus Appointed To Head Stanford University’s English Department

Professor Ato Quayson (image via Facebook)

Ato Quayson, a Ghanaian author and Professor of English, has been appointed to the full headship of the Department of English at Stanford University in the United States. He is currently the Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of English of the University, and he assumes his new position from September 2021.

Prof Quayson graduated from the University of Ghana with a bachelor’s degree with first class honours in English and Arabic. He later obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, after which he held a Junior Research Fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford, before returning to Cambridge to become Reader in Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literature in the Faculty of English. He was also Director of the Centre for African Studies and a Fellow of Pembroke College while at Cambridge.

Professor Ato Quayson (image via Facebook)

Prior to Stanford, he was Professor of African and Postcolonial Literature at New York University from 2017-2019 and Professor of English and inaugural Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto from 2005-2017. In 2016 he was appointed University Professor at the University of Toronto, the highest distinction that the university can bestow.

Prof Quayson has served as President of the African Studies Association (2019-2020). He is an elected Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada, and of the British Academy.

He was Chief Examiner in English of the International Baccalaureate, and has been a member of the Diaspora and Migrations Project Committee of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) of the UK, and the European Research Council award grants panel on culture and cultural production.

Professor Ato Quayson (image via Facebook)

He has also held fellowships at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University and the Research Centre in the Humanities at the Australian National University.

He was chair of the judges for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, and also served on the board of the Noma Book Award, Africa’s 100 Best Book Selection Panel, and several other literary juries and panels.

His book Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism was co-winner of the Urban History Association’s 2015 Best Book Prize (non-North America) and was named in The Guardian as one of the 10 Best Books on Cities in 2014. 

Ato Quayson’s Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism

His books and publications

Prof Quayson’s writings are mostly on African literature, postcolonial studies, disability studies, urban studies and literary theory. He books include:

  • Strategic Transformations in Nigerian Writing (1997)
  • Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice or Process? (2000)
  • Relocating Postcolonialism (with David Theo Goldberg, 2002)
  • Calibrations: Reading for the Social (2003)
  • Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation (2007)
  • African Literature: An Anthology of Theory and Criticism (with Tejumola Olaniyan, 2007)
  • Fathers and Daughters: An Anthology of Exploration (2008)
  • The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature (2012)
  • Labour Migration, Human Trafficking and Multinational Corporations (with Antonela Arhin, 2012)
  • Blackwell Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism (with Girish Daswani, 2013)
  • Oxford Street, Accra; Urban Evolution, Street Life and Itineraries of the Transnational (2014)
  • The Cambridge Companion to the Postcolonial Novel (2016)
  • Tragedy and Postcolonial Literature (2021)

He also wrote a new introduction and notes to Nelson Mandela’s No Easy Walk to Freedom (2003).

His works-in-progress include: Accra Chic: A Locational History of Fashion in Accra (with Grace Tolequé; Intellect Books), The Cambridge Companion to the City in World Literature (with Jini Kim Watson) and Decolonizing English Literary Studies (with Ankhi Mukherjee).


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