In Memoriam: Tejumola Olaniyan, 1959-2019

Teju Olaniyan, a member of the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the past 18 years, died late last month at his home in Madison after suffering sudden cardiac arrest. He was 60 years old.

A native of Omu-Aran, Nigeria, Dr. Olaniyan was the Louise Durham Mead Professor of English and the Wole Soyinka Professor of the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was an internationally-recognized scholar of African, African American, and Caribbean literatures, postcolonial studies, genre studies, and popular culture studies. Dr. Olaniyan was the author of the books  Arrest The Music!: Fela & His Rebel Art and Politics (Indiana University Press, 2004) and Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama (Oxford University Press, 1995). He was co-editor of Taking African Cartoons Seriously: Politics, Satire, and Culture (Michigan State University Press, 2018).

Professor Olaniyan served as the president of the African Literature Association from 2013 to 2014, and on the African Studies Association’s Board of Directors from 2012 to 2015. At the time of his death, he was editor-in-chief of the Journal of the African Literature Association.

Dr. Olaniyan earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Ife in Nigeria. He earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is survived by his wife, Mojisola Olaniyan, who is the assistant dean and director of academic enhancement at the University of Wisconsin Law School.


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