Introducing Dr. Dinidu Karunanayake, Assistant Professor of English

Dr. Dinidu Karunanayake brings something entirely new to the Elon English Department, and for that, we are grateful. Professor Karunanayake is of Sri Lanken descent and attended Miami University in Ohio for his graduate study where he got his Ph.D. in English Literature.

Karunanayake is a postcolonialist and Asian Americanist and uses this interest to drive his research. “I study and teach Anglophone postcolonial, global, and ethnic American literature and culture with a specific emphasis on memory and human rights,” he said. His research interests also include a geographic focus on South Asia and Sri Lanka.

The lens of popular culture is what filters Dr. Karunanayake’s research. According to him, because of popular culture’s pedagogical and discursive nature, it both influences and is influenced by socio-political events of that time. 

“Therefore, popular culture offers us critical windows to history as well as contemporary times,” Karunanayake said. “They archive history. But at the same time, as I investigate with my students, such archives are flawed and incomplete. As informed readers, we must approach the past with a critical perspective. Literature and cinema offer us that perspective.”

Teaching was an immediate interest of Dr. Karunanayake’s following graduate school as a way to further his research interests. “Teaching is a learning process and I learn with the students,” Karunanayake said. He spent a year teaching as an assistant professor of English at Centre College in Kentucky before joining the Elon English Community. What drew Dr. Karunanayake to Elon was “its investments in interdisciplinary and global education and my passion for teaching.”

Luckily for the Elon Community, Dr. Karunanayake has quickly adapted to pandemic learning. He said, “As I am experimenting with new models, I find student group dynamism quite useful.” Karunanayake places students in these groups so they may have academic support. 

His classes also meet in split sessions to ensure maximum student safety. If you are a remote learner, Dr. Karunanayake’s class may be a perfect fit for you as he also live-streams lessons whenever necessary. 

Interested in getting to know Dr. Karunanayake better? Check out some of his favorite books below!

  • Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe
  • Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
  • Cereus Blooms at Nigh by Shani Mootoo
  • Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi
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