Writing and Learning

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Recommended Resources for Dr. Suresh Canagarajah

In support of Canagarajah's May 2023 campus visit, Dr. Jay Peters compiled the interactive annotated bibliography below, which provides a basic synopsis of Canagarajah’s career trajectory over the past twenty-five years.


Canagarajah, Suresh. Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching. Oxford University Press, 1999.

Winner of the MLA’s Mina Shaughnessy Prize, Resisting Linguistic Imperialism recounts Canagarajah’s experiences teaching during civil war in Sri Lanka. In the book, he provides a critical view of the global English Language Teaching (ELT) industry in post-colonial South Asia. This resource is a brief review by David Johnson, published in Applied Linguistics in 2001.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “The Fortunate Traveler: Shuttling between Communities and Literacies by Economy Class.” Reflections on Multiliterate Lives, edited by Belcher and Connor, Channel View Publications, 2001.

In this short literacy narrative, Canagarajah reflects on his writing development across multiple countries, from his early education in Sri Lanka, to university education in the United Kingdom, and eventually to his current position teaching in the United States. He describes what he learned about the different attitudes and values people bring to reading and writing based on cultural context.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “The Place of World Englishes in Composition: Pluralization Continued.”  College Composition and Communication, vol 57, no 4 (Jun 2006), pp. 586-619.

Contesting the monolingual English assumptions of U.S. college composition, this article identifies the textual and pedagogical possibilities for World Englishes in academic writing.  It presents code meshing as a strategy for merging local varieties of English with Standard Written English in a move toward gradually pluralizing academic writing and developing multilingual competencies capable of supporting transnational relationships.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “Toward a Writing Pedagogy of Shuttling Between Languages: Learning from Multilingual Writers.” College English, vol 68, no 6, (Jul 2006), pp. 589-604.

In this article, Canagarajah compares two writing samples from the same writer writing in the same genre (the research article) but writing in two different languages and for different rhetorical contexts. He explores the implications of his analysis for developing a multilingual orientation to reading, writing, and teaching in multilingual contexts.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “Suresh Canagarajah on Translingualism: A Four-Part Interview, Part I” (YouTube, 03:18)

The first part of a brief, four-part interview of Canagarajah by Shakil Rabbi, at the time a Ph.D. student at Penn State and now Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech. In this first part, Canagarajah describes the uneasy relationship between translingualism (see previous resources) and the concept of diversity in the neoliberal university. Canagarajah suggests that in the neoliberal university, diversity is conceived of as a tradeable commodity, whereas translingual scholars criticize this aspect while remaining “politically savvy” about their own positions within such universities.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “Suresh Canagarajah on Translingualism: A Four-Part Interview, Part II” (YouTube, 03:21)

In the second part of the interview, Canagarajah explains that, although people often think of bilingualism as possessing two distinct languages in a hierarchical relationship to one another, e.g., a primary language (L1) and secondary language (L2), the experience of being bilingual is not like that. He suggests that for bilinguals, languages are not so separated, hierarchical, and distinct in practice, but rather mixed and entangled.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “Suresh Canagarajah on Translingualism: A Four-Part Interview, Part III” (YouTube, 04:27)

In the third part of the interview, Canagarajah describes how translingualism fits into English-dominant, monolingual educational contexts. He points to a tension or contradiction between, on the one hand, the university’s embrace of diversity and, on the other hand, its insistence on dominant language ideologies that see education as monolingual both in the classroom and in assessments of student learning, ability, and language proficiency.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “Suresh Canagarajah on Translingualism: A Four-Part Interview, Part IV” (YouTube, 04:35)

In the final part of the interview, Canagarajah talks about the writers and thinkers who helped him understand translingualism and about his own experiences coming to understand his communicative practices as inherently translingual.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “Negotiating Norms in Academic Writing” (YouTube, 18:01-41:22)

This resource is a virtual lecture that Canagarajah delivered for Stockholm University’s Conference on Translocality. From 18:01 to 41:22 of the video, he gives a brief overview of his own career trajectory, touching briefly on many of the resources presented here, and concludes with a detailed account of one classroom experience where his students interpreted a piece of multilingual writing using a wide range of semiotic resources to make the writing meaningful and rhetorically effective even if they lacked specific knowledge of the languages being used.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “Trajectories in Decolonizing Language: A Conversation with Ngugi wa Thiong’o.” Applied Linguistics, vol 43, no 1, 2022, pp. 203-211.

In this brief interview, Canagarajah asks Ngugi wa Thiong’o, author of Decolonising the Mind and one of the foundational theorists of decoloniality, about his changing orientation to decolonization and language. In 1986, wa Thiong’o famously proclaimed that he would no longer write in English and would only produce work in his native language of Gikuyu. After adopting a Marxist approach to language in the 1980s, he now adopts an embodied and ecological orientation from his Gikuyu tradition. He articulates the importance of vernaculars and multimodal art forms in social transformation. He discusses the role of literature for enabling affective dispositions such as memory, pain, and hope in resistance. This interview is helpful for appreciating Canagarajah’s recent turn toward relational ethics and embodied vulnerability reflect his broader geopolitical commitments.

Canagarajah, Suresh. “A Decolonial Crip Linguistics.” Applied Linguistics, vol 44, no 1, 2023, pp. 1-21.

This article opens a conversation between disability studies and linguistics from the author’s positionality from the Global South. It argues that the capacity building for both the abled and disabled in the North is implicated in the disablement of people in the Global South. A decolonial orientation to disability studies values vulnerability, relationality, and ethics which are less privileged in the academy. The article demonstrates how a “crip linguistics” might facilitate a different understanding of language competence and analysis.

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Big News!

The Office of Writing and Learning is excited to co-sponsor a guest lecture from renowned literacy and language scholar Dr. April Baker-Bell on Wednesday, February 28, 2024. More information is available on the OUDI webpage.

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