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Cajetan Iheka ⎻ In Praise of Wild Ecopedagogy

May 3 @ 5:45 pm - 7:15 pm

The late Tẹjumọla Ọlaniyan was an astute theorist of the politics of African cultural forms. With his work on drama, music, and cartoons, Ọlaniyan moved across forms with a clear-eyed, rigorous attention to political forms and the formal politics of cultural productions. Taking inspiration from Ọlaniyan’s multimodality and consistent interest in the political work of texts, Professor Cajetan Iheka asks in this lecture what African literature and film can teach us about ecology. Centering Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Zimbabwean novel Nervous Conditions (1988) and Sarita Siegel and Gregg Mitman’s film on Liberia The Land Beneath Our Feet (2017),  Iheka proposes “wild ecopedagogy” as the product of an investment in the land-centered epistemology inscribed in these cultural texts. 

Cajetan Iheka is Professor of English at Yale University, specializing in African literature, ecocriticism, ecomedia, and postcolonial literature. He is the author of two award-winning books. His first book, Naturalizing Africa: Ecological Violence, Agency, and Postcolonial Resistance in African Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2018), won the 2019 Ecocriticism Book Award of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, and the 2020 First Book Prize of the African Literature Association. His latest book, African Ecomedia: Network Forms, Planetary Politics (Duke University Press, 2021), positions Africa at the center of discourses on media ecologies, materiality, and infrastructure. It won the 2022 African Studies Association Best Book Prize (formerly Herskovits Book Prize), the Ecocriticism Book Award of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, and the Ronnie Heyman Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication in the Humanities. African Ecomedia was also awarded Honorable Mention for the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP) Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Media Ecology Association Book Awards. Professor Iheka is editor of the MLA volume Teaching Postcolonial Environmental Literature and Media (2022). He also coedited African Migration Narratives: Politics, Race, and Space (University of Rochester Press, 2018), and Environmental Transformations, a special issue of African Literature Today.


“Bí a bá perí akọni, a ó fida lalẹ”! When the soul of the beloved is addressed, it is right that the gestures be proper.

In a career that spanned over three decades, Tẹjumọla Ọlaniyan pursued a unique, capacious, and generous vision of humanistic scholarship in the field of African literary and cultural studies, including the black world as a whole and extending beyond it. “My deep interest,” he once asserted with characteristic precision, “is transdisciplinary teaching and research. My goal is the cultivation of critical self-reflexivity about our expressions and their many contexts.”

In this spirit, the UW-Madison Department of English and the Center for the Humanities is honored to present the third annual Tejumola Olaniyan Memorial Lecture with Cajetan Iheka, Professor of English at Yale University.


May 3
5:45 pm - 7:15 pm
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Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, Room L140
800 University Avenue
Madison, WI United States
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