Simon Gikandi

Simon Gikandi is a Robert Schirmer Professor of English at Princeton University and served as editor of the PMLA, the official journal of the Modern Languages Association (MLA), for five years (2011-2016). He was born in Nyeri, Kenya and received a B.A with First Class Honors in Literature from the University of Nairobi. Gikandi later went on to become a British Council Scholar at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where he graduated with an M.Litt. in English Studies, and later received his Ph.D. in English from Northwestern University. He is the author of many books and articles, including Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature, Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o, a Choice Outstanding Academic Publication for 2004, and co-author of The Columbia Guide to East African Literature in English Since 1945. He edits for The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature, the Routledge Encyclopedia of African Literature, and most recently for Vol. 11 of The Oxford History of the Novel in English: The Novel in Africa and the Caribbean Since the 1950s (2016). His latest book, Slavery and the Culture of Taste (2011) focuses on how the violent exploitation of African enslavement actually shaped European theories of taste, beauty, and high culture. Slavery and the Culture of Taste has since become the co-winner of the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Award and of the Melville J. Herskovits Award for the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English. In December 2016, Gikandi was elected 2nd Vice-President of the Modern Languages Association (MLA) and is slated to become President of the Association in 2019.

Conference Engagements


Thursday, June 15: 5:30-7:00pm
Keynote Lecture

“African Literature in the World: Imagining a Post-Colonial Public Sphere”

Chaired by Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi (President of ALA)
Venue: Sterling Law Building Lecture Theater