S. Shankar


S. Shankar

Office hours:
T 12.25-1.25 and TH 4.45-6.15

S. Shankar is a critic, novelist,  and translator. His scholarly areas of interest are postcolonial literature (especially of Africa and South Asia), literature of immigration, film, and translation studies. He is Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program. His most recent book is Flesh and Fish Blood: Postcolonialism, Translation, and the Vernacular(2012; U. of California P.; OrientBlackswan India).  In a citation accompanying the award of Honorable Mention from the American Comparative Literature Association, the 2013 Rene Wellek Prize committee noted, “Over-all, Shankar’s book combines theoretical sophistication, deftness of interpretation and an impressive clarity and cogency of argument. It makes a compelling claim for rethinking postcolonialism within the framework of comparative vernacular literatures and makes a much needed case for a more capacious curriculum.” Shankar's novel No End to the Journey, published by Steerforth Press in 2005, is set in a village in South India and draws on the ancient East Indian epic the Ramayana. It tells the story of Gopalakrishnan and his difficult relationship to his son. In favorable reviews, Booklist compared it to Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day and the Indian Express noted that "it packs a punch." A Spanish translation of the novel appeared in 2009. In 2001, Shankar published his first volume of criticism, entitled Textual Traffic: Colonialism, Modernity, and the Economy of the Text (SUNY Press). The book has been positively reviewed for its explication of the relationship between colonialism and modernity and its innovations of critical methodology. A Map of Where I Live (1997), Shankar’s first novel, intertwines a story of love and political intrigue set in Madras with the memoir of an Indian historian who discovers that Lilliput (as in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels) really exists. Shashi Tharoor called the novel “highly original, compelling, and vivid,” and World Literature Today described it as “a minor masterpiece.” Shankar is also co-editor of the anthology Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration (New Press, 2003), which brings together poems, excerpts from novels and memoirs, short stories, letters, and essays to present immigrant literature since 1965. This book, San Antonio Express News notes, is “a strong and diverse literary story of multicultural America… likely the most original and best introduction to the new immigration available today for its balanced, informative, moving, and comprehensive offerings.” The paperback edition of the anthology was published in 2005. The book has been used as common text in Freshman Experience programs. Shankar is a translator from Tamil, including of the full-length Tamil play Water! by Komal Swaminathan, published in 2001 in India by Seagull Press and in the US by Asian Theatre Journal, and of the famous 18th-century Krishna devotional “Alaipaayuthey,” which appears in No End to the Journey as “Restless as the Waves of the Ocean.” Shankar has published shorter pieces in a wide variety of scholarly and general interest periodicals in India and the US. His scholarly articles, poems, reviews, and literary essays have appeared in such academic journals and popular venues as PMLA, Tin House, Massachusetts Review, Outlook, The Hindu, Pioneer, Village Voice, and The Nation. “Midnight’s Orphans, or A Postcolonialism Worth Its Name,” a scholarly article appearing in Cultural Critique 56 (Winter 2004), has been widely read and cited. He has work forthcoming in PMLA and Comparative Literature. Aside from being Professor in the Department of English, Shankar was Director of the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa from 2004-2010. He was appointed Convener of XVIth Annual Convention of the Forum on Contemporary Theory (India) in 2013. He is 2016 Scholar-in-Residence at University of Houston-Downtown.

Areas of Interest

Postcolonial theory and literature, creative writing, literary theory and cultural studies, translation and translation studies, cultural journalism


Excellence in Teaching Award, College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature, 2008. Honorable Mention, Rene Wellek Prize Committee of the ACLA, 2013 for Flesh and Fish Blood: Postcolonialism, Translation, and the Vernacular Scholar-in-Residence, University of Houston-Downtown, 2016.


MA, Madras University PhD, University of Texas-Austin


Spring Semester 2017
  • ENG-463: Studies in Film: Postcolonial Narrative Cinema
  • ENG-613D: Nonfiction Writing Workshop: Cultural Journalism

Fall Semester 2016
  • ENG-271: Genre: Short Story & Novel
  • ENG-413: Form and Theory of Fiction