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Ghanaian Professor heads America’s Stanford Department of English


A Ghanaian in the person of  Professor Ato Quayson has been appointed to the full headship of the Department of English, Stanford, one of the leading universities in America.

Professor Ato Quayson is currently the Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of English at this top-class school, and he takes his new position as Chair of Stanford’s English Department for the year ending 31st December 2021.

Professor had his primary education at St. Theresa’s School in North Kaneshie, Accra, and proceeded to obtained Ordinary and Advanced Levels GCE at Apam Secondary School, Central Region. At the University of Ghana, he emerged as a First Class student in English and Arabic and proceeded to the University of Cambridge, UK, where he completed Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Ato Quayson is the Jean G. and Morris M. Doyle Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of English at Stanford.

He studied for his undergraduate degree at the University of Ghana and took 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 from 1995-2005.

He was also Director of the Centre for African Studies and a Fellow of Pembroke College while at Cambridge. Prior to Stanford he was Professor of African and Postcolonial Literature at New York University (2017-2019) and Professor of English and inaugural Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto (2005-2017). In 2016 he was appointed University Professor at the University of Toronto, the highest distinction that the university can bestow.

Professor Quayson has published 6 monographs and 8 edited volumes. His monographs include Strategic Transformations in Nigerian Writing (1997), Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice, or Process? (2000), Calibrations: Reading for the Social (2003), and Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation (2007). Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism (2014) 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.

His most recent book is Tragedy and Postcolonial Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Edited volumes include Relocating Postcolonialism (with David Goldberg, 2001), African Literary Theory:

An Anthology of Literary Criticism and Theory (with Tejumola Olaniyan, 2007), Fathers and Daughters: An Anthology of Exploration (2008), Labor Migration, Human Trafficking, and Multinational Corporations, (with Antonela Arhin, 2012), The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature, 2 volumes (2012), A Companion to Diaspora and Transnational Studies (with Girish Daswani, 2013), and The Cambridge Companion to the Postcolonial Novel (2016). He also wrote a new Introduction and Notes to Nelson Mandela’s No Easy Walk to Freedom (2003). Works-in-progress include Accra Chic:

A Locational History of Fashion in Accra (with Grace Tolequé; Intellect Books and Chicago University Press), The Cambridge Companion to the City in World Literature (with Jini Kim Watson; Cambridge University Press) and Decolonizing English Literary Studies (with Ankhi Mukherjee; Cambridge University Press).

Professor 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.

Story by Edzorna Francis Mensah

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