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NYU Abu Dhabi appoints Soyinka Arts Professor of Theater

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has been appointed as ‘Arts Professor of Theatre’ by the New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 

The announcement on the university’s website states that the Laureate will play a key role in building the university’s deep strength within the arts and its growth as a preeminent research and teaching university and a world-class leader in global higher education.

Commenting on Mr Soyinka’s appointment, Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann said, “we are excited to provide a home in the UAE for the beauty and power of Soyinka’s contributions to our understanding of our histories and our humanity.”

She said it is a great honour to have Mr Soyinka, a world-renowned artist, academic, and activist, a true citizen of the world and a Nobel laureate join the NYUAD community. The appointment takes effect on September 1, 2022. 

“Soyinka is a multifaceted artist-dramatist, poet, essayist, musician, philosopher, academic, teacher, human rights activist, and global artist and scholar. “His appointment is aligned with NYUAD’s Academic Strategy and its mission. He will play a key role in continuing to enhance the University’s standing within the arts and its growth as a preeminent research and teaching university and leader in global higher education”, it stated.

The statement further reads: “His class this fall, “Art, Literature, Citizenship and Culture,” will explore questions of citizenship and culture, how works of art can be said to “belong” to a country or culture and contribute to the work of shaping national or cultural identities. “The seminar will draw on diverse genres of literature from a range of times and places – from ancient Greece to the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary Turkey and eighteenth-century England.

Soyinka has published more than 90 works on culture and tradition, creativity and power, activism, and the artistic process. His most recent book published in 2021, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, is a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and has been described in the Los Angeles Times as a tour de force combining “elements of a murder mystery, a searing political satire and an Alice in Wonderland-like modern allegory of power and deceit.

“Soyinka has held positions at other higher education institutions, including Harvard, Yale, Duke, Emory, and Loyola Marymount in the US. He is also an active member of international, artistic, and human rights organizations”.

The statement reveals “Soyinka first came to NYUAD as Writer-in-Residence in 2020. His visit then was through a joint invitation from the African Studies, Film and New Media, History, Literature and Creative Writing, and Theater programs, hosted by the NYUAD Institute and supported by other offices across the University.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Awam Ampka, Dean of Arts and Humanities, for his outstanding leadership and critical role in this important appointment”.

Author: Dr. Funmi Beckley

fumbeck@gmail.com

Abeokuta, Nigeria

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