Dr. Amritjit Singh,Langston Hughes Professor of English at Ohio University, received the Distinguished Achievement in Scholarship Award on Jan. 9 at the annual meeting of South Asian Literary Association, held in conjunction with the Modern Language Association meeting in Chicago.
Singh has published more than a dozen books, including, most recently, Postcolonial Theory and the United States (2000); The Collected Writings of Wallace Thurman (2003); Interviews with Edward W. Said (2004); and The Circle of Illusion (2011). Past President of MELUS, SALA, and USACLALS, he currently serves as adviser to the SALA executive committee.
At the annual SALA conferences, Singh has chaired since 2001 the “Hamara Mushaira” Literary Arts event where writers read their creative writing. This year, he also was panel chair for the session on “Religiosity and South Asian Nationality.” At the MLA meeting, he presided over a panel on “South Asians in North America: Interethnic Readings.”
Singh has served on the MLA division executive committee for the Division in Ethnic Studies in Language and Literature since 2011 and is the incoming chair for that division.
“I am very happy to learn that SALA is honoring Professor Amritjit Singh with its Distinguished Achievement in Scholarship award. Amritjit has been a teacher, a friend and a mentor to many of us for years with his excellent scholarship that crosses narrowly defined boundaries and categories. He has also been a model to many of us for his continuing life as an academic, who always remembers to help and support others within and beyond institutions and organizations,” said Roshni Rustomji, Sonoma State University Professor Emeritus.
“Dr. Amritjit Singh has been an intellectual resource for me since the publication of my first novel What the Body Remembers. I call him the Great Catalyst, for he wields email to connect storytellers of all kinds, introducing us, encouraging the exchange of ideas and interests,” says novelist Shauna Singh Baldwin.
Baldwin goes on to add, “Any time I asked, he delved into his vast reading experience, and responded. In long emails, we discussed problems of assimilation for South Asians in North America, … issues of civil liberties after the World Trade Center tragedy, the importance of coalitions…. He opened my thinking to parallels between the Indo-American and African American experience, and the history of Punjabi Mexicans.… I know I speak for many writers he has helped with his time, encouragement and boundless enthusiasm when I congratulate him for this well-deserved award for Distinguished Achievement in Scholarship. Bravo Dr. Amritjit Singh!”
Many other writers such as Vijay Lakshmi, Meena Alexander, Jay Birjepatil, Samina Najmi, Chitra Divakaruni, and Charles Johnson sent in messages of greetings and congratulations.
Dr. Sherrie Gradin, Professor and Chair of the English Department in Ohio University’s College of Arts & Sciences, praised Singh’s “tireless willingness to mentor” and his “dedicated scholarly work.”
Robin Field, Professor of English and Women’s Studies at King’s College in Pennsylania, thanked Singh for teaching her “the importance of standing up for principles I believe in.”
Daniel M. Scott, Chair of English at Rhode Island College, where Singh taught for 20 years before joining Ohio University in 2006, put it best, “Amrit has been, is, and will be the single most inspiring academic I know. Don’t get me wrong, he can be inspiring and exhausting, … inspiring and provoking. But even when he is nettlesome, he is invigorating – and often correct.… He is the catalyst for a lot of scholarly reactions – essays, books, and more!”