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  • Introduction

  • Maik Nwosu is Professor of English and chair of the Department of English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver, Colorado. He worked as a journalist (and received the Nigeria Media Merit Award for Journalist of the Year) before moving to Syracuse University, New York for a Ph.D in English and Textual Studies. His research areas include African, African Diaspora, postcolonial, and world literatures; semiotics and critical theory.

Nwosu's poetry collection, Suns of Kush, was awarded the Association of Nigerian Authors/Cadbury Poetry Prize in 1995. His novels, Invisible Chapters and Alpha Song, received the Association of Nigerian Authors Prose Prize and the Association of Nigerian Authors/Spectrum Prose Prize in 1999 and 2002 respectively. He has also published a short story collection, Return to Algadez. A Gecko's Farewell, his third novel, was published by Parrésia in 2016. His poems and stories have appeared in OkikeDrumvoices Revue, New Writing 14, Dublin Quarterly, El Ghibli, Fiction International, and Agni. Nwosu is a fellow of the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany; the Civitella Ranieri Center, Umbertide, Italy; and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study, Stellenbosch, South Africa. He is also a member of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars.

Nwosu's academic essays have appeared in several journals and books, including English in Africa; Research in African Literatures; Texts, Tasks, and Theories: Versions and Subversions in African Literatures; Journal of Postcolonial Writing; Transnational Literature; Commonwealth Essays and Studies; Semiotica: Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies; Critical Insights: Cultural Encounters; and Journal of Narrative Theory.
    His book, Markets of Memories: Between the Postcolonial and the Transnational (Africa World Press, 2011), explores the traveling sign in the context of cultural-ideological intersections and in relation to selected works by Christopher Okigbo, Derek Walcott, James Joyce, and Isabel Allende. His coedited book, The Critical Imagination in African Literature: Essays in Honor of Michael J. C. Echeruo, was published by Syracuse University Press in 2015. The Comic Imagination in Modern African Literature and Cinema: A Poetics of Laughter, his study of Africa’s carnivalesque poetics of laughter, was published by Routledge in 2016.

  • Recent Classes

  • ENGL 4660: The Black Imagination
    Focusing mainly on Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, this course explores and connects aspects of the black imagination. These aspects include oral performances, thought systems, literature, art, cinema, and critical discourses in different eras and in various places. Studied together, these existential and intellectual signposts provide an expanded insight into African and African diasporic aesthetics from an intercontinental and an interdisciplinary perspective.

    ENGL 4650: Postcolonial Modernism
    Referencing geographies of modernism, this course examines the intersection of Euro-American modernity/modernism and postcolonialism in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Australia. In addition to the relation or “markets of memories” between literature and empire (including the dis/connection between the postcolonial and the transnational), we also focus on the dis/continuous span of postcolonial aesthetics in literature and culture.
    HNRS 2400: Migration and Diaspora Narratives
    In this course, we examine the movement and resettlement of people from one locality to another, especially across borders. Focusing on different regions of the world, we study the nature and consequences of migration from historical, socioeconomic, and literary/artistic perspectives. Because the movement of people involves the relocation of memories, we closely analyze migration and diaspora narratives, which provide insights into a contemporary phenomenon that references the earliest history of humanity.
    FSEM 1111: Modern Classics of World Literature
    This course is a literary journey around the world – with some of the best literary texts as our tour guides or windows into different cultures and aesthetics. We also examine how these literary works and the literary traditions that they represent engage one another in (a reconstructed) conversation across space and time. Central to these inquiries is the idea of the “classic.” What is a literary classic, particularly a modern literary classic, and how does a work of literature become canonized?

  • Selected Publications

  • Some recent academic publications:

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  • The concerns in The Critical Imagination in African Literature are varied, as are the modes of inquiry, but a common quality is that many of the essays point up new theoretical directions in the continuing debate or discourse that has characterized modern African literature. These essays do not constitute the beginning of African literary history or theory, but many of them further a fuller text/context appreciation of modern African literature and criticism from both a distinctive and a relational perspective. Many of them belong to – and extend – the sphere of African intellectual thought pioneered by scholars such as Professor Michael J. C. Echeruo, whom the book celebrates. 


  • This book is a seminal study that significantly expands the interdisciplinary discourse on African literature and cinema by exploring Africa’s under-visited carnivalesque poetics of laughter. Focusing on modern African literature as well as contemporary African cinema, particularly the Nigerian film industry known as Nollywood, the book examines the often-neglected aesthetics of the African comic imagination. In the best instances of this comic vision, the characteristic laughter or lightness can facilitate a reappreciation of the world, either because of the aesthetic structure of signification or the consequent chain of signification. This referentiality or progressive signification is an important aspect of the poetics of laughter as the African comic imagination variously reflects, across genres, both the festival character of comedy and its pedagogical value.

This portfolio last updated: 26-Aug-2021 9:00 PM