Introducing Sammani Perera, Our New Adjunct Instructor of English 

Professor Sammani Perera, a Sri Lankan, first discovered her interest in teaching when she got her master’s degree in Creative Writing – Fiction at Miami University, Ohio. “During my MA career, while working as a teaching assistant, I realized my passion for teaching,” she said. “After graduation, I continued to teach at Miami. It is this same passion that brought me to Elon.”

When Dr. Perera joined the Elon community, she first taught ENG 110. Now, she is teaching a section of ENG 255 titled “Postcolonial Identities in Literature” along with yet another ENG 110 section. Her ENG 255 course, which focuses on literature from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, explores the identity of postcolonial nations and how colonialism leaves lasting impacts. 

And when asked how her time at Elon has been thus far, she responded first with one word: “Impressive.” This is due to how her students committed themselves to staying safe in the pandemic and maintained a similar responsibility with their coursework.

Her favorite aspect of teaching at Elon is small group Zoom meetings because “It gives me and my students an opportunity to get to know each other better while actually seeing each other without masks.” These meetings are also the most optimal for Dr. Perera to give students personalized feedback.

Beyond her English and teaching interests, Dr. Perera also loves travel and wildlife photography. She said, “When I first started photography, I was mesmerized by the color play at sunrises and sunsets, the beasts who with lasting patience shared nature with us and put up with our cameras clicking away at them, and the way Native American and pioneer history often intersected with nature.”

Whispers of Stars Cape Hatteras, NC, October, 2020

Sometimes, she even weaves her photography into her writing to produce photo stories. As she explores photography and fiction in conjunction, Dr. Perera has begun to reflect more deeply on complicated topics, evoking questions within her such as:

  • What does it mean to travel in national parks as a brown migrant woman?
  • How ethical is it for a national park to hierarchize human life over animal life?
  • How can I, as a photographer and storyteller, bring such topics into my work?

When asked about her favorite artworks, Dr. Perera highlighted the poetry of Derek Walcott. She said, “He addresses the colonial past and the postcolonial present of the Caribbean while using an abundance of nature imagery and a tone that discourages further violence.” Some of Walcott’s poems she recommends include “The Sea Is History,” “Ruins of a Great House,” and “White Magic.”


Thranduil’s Throne St. Andrew’s Beach, GA January 2021

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