Guest Lectures / Talks

Fairway Galle Literary Festival: North-South University Collaboration

Eight first-year students of the Department of English and one staff member took part in the 2017 Fairway Galle Literary Festival 11th - 15th Jan. 2017. They participated as part of the North South University Collaboration along with students and lecturers from five other universities across the country. The event offered a unique learning experience both in terms of literature and the forming of intercultural connections.

Workshop on Poetry Writing

Dr. Vivimarie VanderPoorten, Senior Lecturer in English Language, Literature and Linguistics at the Open University of Sri Lanka, conducted a session on poetry writing for students of the Department of English in the following two courses: "Rhetoric and Style and Contemporary Sri Lankan Writing in English: Thematic Approaches" on 27th June 2017. Dr. VanderPoorten's first book, nothing prepares you, won the 2007 Gratiaen Prize and her third, borrowed dust, was shortlisted for the 2016 Gratiaen Prize. She is also winner of the 2009 SAARC Poetry Award in Delhi and joint winner of the State Literary Award for English Poetry in 2011. 14 students attended the workshop, where they discussed techniques of poetry writing.

Creative Writing Workshop by Nayomi Munaweera

The Department of English hosted a creative writing workshop by Nayomi Munaweera, author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors (2012) which was awarded the Commonwealth regional prize for Asia on 12th December 2014. The workshop was open for both undergraduate and graduate students of the University of Colombo.

“At university, we pay attention primarily to academic writing. A creative writing workshop in this context comes as a breath of fresh air. Nayomi was a pleasant surprise as she spoke with ease, engaging readily with us. I’d never paid much attention to writing creatively although I enjoy reading fiction. The workshop gave me a boost of confidence I terribly needed” – Stephanie

“The workshop was good. Nayomi was very friendly and enthusiastic about the whole thing which loosened things up. I think it was a great way to spice up the semester and learn something new too!” – Praveen

“It was really effective, useful and a new experience for us as we haven’t taken any classes in creative writing before. Even though it was just for two hours, it inspired me to write and she actually convinced us that anyone can write and that everyone has the potential to be creative.”– Nipunie

“The creative writing workshop was interesting because we had to move away from being critics to actually producing a creative piece. Writing with the prompts was also quite fun, because it showed how many diverse ideas can be contained within one simple sentence” – Piumi

Guest Lecture by John Swales, Professor Emeritus of the University of Michigan, USA

John Swales, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA, conducted a lecture titled “Citational Practice: From Parenthetical Plonking to Intertextual Storytelling” at the invitation of the Department of English on the 29th of October, 2014.

Prof. Swales was Director of the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute from 1987 to 2001, and has been a prolific writer since 1971, publishing many books and journal articles in his primary areas of research, genre analysis and academic discourse. His widely popular Academic Writing for Graduate Students, co-authored with Chris Feak, which specifically targets non-native speakers of English, is now in its 3rd edition. Professor Swales’ work in academic writing covers a variety of disciplines including science, medicine, humanities and law.

The lecture which was followed by an engaging discussion, was well attended by an audience of English Department students and academic staff, as well as academic staff from other Departments of the University of Colombo and from the University of Kelaniya and the Post Graduate Institute of English.

Guest Lecture by Professor Joybrato Mukherjee

Prof. Joybrato Mukherjee held a lecture titled "English in Post-Postcolonial Sri Lanka: Looking at the Nation's Link Language from Outside" on the 29th of August 2014 at the Department of English. In addition to being the President of Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany and Vice President of DAAD, Professor Mukherjee is also Co-Principal Investigator of the Sri Lankan English component of the International Corpus of English.

The lecture problematized the use of the term "Postcolonial English" arguing that despite the wide use of the term, it fails to reflect that English in postcolonial nations are also influenced by factors which are not rooted in colonialism. Using corpora based evidence to substantiate his claims that Sri Lankan English was a good example of a post-postcolonial variety of English, Prof. Mukherjee concluded by highlighting the need to consider interconnections between regional varieties of English instead of limiting research to comparisons between the varieties of the metropolis and the postcolony.

Award-winning writer Shyam Selvadurai introduced his new book

Shyam Selvadurai introduced his latest book The Hungry Ghosts on Friday 23rd August at 10am at the Department of English.

SHYAM SELVADURAI is the acclaimed author of the best-selling novels Funny Boy, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and Cinnamon Gardens, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Award and sold around the world. He has also written a novel for young adults, Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Selvadurai now lives in Toronto and Sri Lanka.

His latest work, The Hungry Ghosts moves between Toronto and war-torn Sri Lanka of the 1980s and 1990s and tells an intense and absorbing story of one man’s restless search for redemption.The Hungry Ghosts is a beautifully written, dazzling story of family, wealth and the long reach of the past. It shows how racial, political and sexual differences can tear apart both a country and the human heart—not just once, but many times, until the ghosts are fed and freed.

Playwright Ernest MacIntyre at the Department of English

Ernest MacIntyre, an internationally acclaimed and well known Sri Lankan playwright, who has been active in the Sri Lankan English theatre for the last 50 years presented a talk on his work at the Department of English on 26 July 2013. His work has been performed in many countries including Australia and Sri Lanka.

During the 1960s Ernest Macintyre was one of Sri Lanka's most prolific and successful playwrights in English. His early plays included 'The Full Circle of Caucasian Chalk' (1967), 'The President of the Old Boys' Club' (1970) and 'The Education of Miss Asia' (1971; later performed at the Playbox Theatre, Melbourne, 1979). 'Treated to the sophisticated craftsmanship of his productions and provoked by the thematic relevance of his plays, the expanding English-speaking audience [of Sri Lanka] developed a taste for political and social drama' (Frontline: India's National Magazine vol.6, no. 4 1999 (

Macintyre emigrated to Australia in the 1970s and has since made a name for himself in the Australian theatre, particularly with his plays Let's Give them Curry (1981), Rasanayagam's Last Riot (1993) and 'He Still Comes from Jaffna' in which he explores the effects of the conflict between Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka. His work engages with issues relevant to contemporary Sri Lanka. Rasanayagam's Last Riot (1993) is on the curriculum of the 3rd Year Course Introduction to Contemporary South Asian Literature ashe is a playwright who “… explores the emotional, socio-political and intellectual trajectories of a nation enmeshed within a web of ethnic and cultural complications.” (Silva 2008)

The talk was well attended and the students who participated in the discussion found it insightful, leading to thought provoking questions.