“Amritjit Singh first foreign-born to win rare honor”
- Aziz Haniffa
Amritjit Singh, Langston Hughes Professor of English and African American Studies at the Ohio University in Athens , Ohio, was last month honored with the 2007 MELUS (Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature in the United States) Lifetime Achievement Award at its 21st annual conference in Fresno, California.
This was the first time MELUS has honored a foreign-born American professor with the prestigious award for contributions to ethnic American literary scholarship.
A national organization of college and university professors, MELUS states, “it is committed to expanding the definition and canon of American literature through the study and teaching of African-American, Latino-American, Native-American, AsianAmerican and ethnically-specific European-American literary works, their authors and their cultural contexts.”
Born in 1945 in Rawalpindi in British India, Singh, who grew up in
Ambala from 1948 to 1964, said, "I feel gratified that my work over the
past 35 years in African American and ethnic American literature is being
acknowledged by an organization that means so much to me." He noted that
he was a member of MELUS in 1973-1974 before he left to work nine years in
After 20 years
Singh said, “As an African-Americanist, I feel a special connection to
the foundational values of the
Before joining Ohio University, and prior to his two-decades old stint with Rhode Island College, Singh taught at the University of Hyderabad, University of Rajasthan, and held visiting professorships at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, New York University, College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and University of California, Berkeley.
coming to the
In 2002, he was
a senior Fulbright Professor at the John F Kennedy Institute of North American
His poems and translations from Punjabi poetry have appeared in the Toronto Review, Nimrod, Edinburgh Review, New Letters, Chelsea, and many other specialist publications and journals.
Singh has written several books on the Harlem Renaissance, including the Collected Writings of Wallace Thurman, which he co-edited with Daniel M Scott, III; two co-edited volumes on the uses of memory in ethnic American literature, as well as Postcolonial Theory and the United States, co-edited with Peter Schmidt, a book that explores the relationship between postcolonial studies and ethnic American studies.
Among his other publications are: India: An Anthology of Contemporary Writing (1983); The Magic Circle of Henry James (1989); Conversations with Ralph Ellison (1995); and Interviews with Edward W. Said (2004).
In 2004, Singh
also co-edited – with Professor C. Lok Chua, chair of the Department of English
remains a series editor for the Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the Americas Series
published by the Rutgers University Press, is currently co-editing a
documentary of the history of South Asians in
Singh at the MELUS conference, Chua and Joseph Skerrett, Jr, who is at the
specially lauded for mentoring ways and for forming effective communities and
networks of scholars, particularly during his presidency of MELUS, from 1994 to
1997, as its deputy editor of its journal from 1987 to 1999, and its program
chair from 1988 to 1990. When he held
the reins at MELUS, chapters were launched in Europe and
He acquired his love for teaching and writing from his father, a professor of Punjabi who helped prepare school and college-level textbooks in the sciences and social sciences when the medium of instruction was changed in the 1950s from English to Hindi and Punjabi.
Singh’s wife of
39 years, Prem, is also a professor at