Picture of Joanne Leow

Joanne Leow B.A., Hons, Magna cum Laude (Brown), M.A. (National U of Singapore), Ph.D. (U of Toronto)

Associate Professor

Faculty Member in English

Arts 322

Research Area(s)

  • Decolonizing Literatures
  • Anglophone Asian Literatures and Film
  • Asian North American Literatures
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Spatial Theory
  • Urbanism / Cities
  • Ecocriticism
  • Diasporic and Transnational Studies

About me

Two questions have consistently informed my research:

What forms of literary, filmic and artistic contestations take place in spaces that have been thoroughly imbricated in the racialized postcolonial politics of capitalism and development?

What functions do literature, film and art serve for individuals and communities in these transnational spaces that other disciplines, other modes of thinking and understanding cannot?

In order to think through these questions, I have examined literary and cultural texts from my birth country, Singapore, and from the larger Southeast Asian region. I have also done work in the contexts of diasporic and transnational North America. My research interests lie at the intersections of spatial theory, decolonial theory, postcolonial studies, transnational and diasporic texts, and the environmental humanities. My work is also deeply invested in developing digital tools and artistic works that bridge the gaps between scholarly concerns and community engagement.

I am currently involved in two major research projects. The first, "Counter-Cartographies," is a book manuscript that twines spatial theory, authoritarian urban development and planning, and contemporary Singaporean texts. I am also the principal researcher of a SSHRC-funded study of the artistic, filmic, and literary depictions of coastlines in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Vancouver. This second project, “Intertidal Polyphonies," records and theorizes the sonic materialities, poetics, and politics of reclaimed land in all three sites. At intertidal.usask.ca, you will find an digital archive that consolidates this collaborative research. It features field recordings from these coastlines, interviews with artists and writers, literary readings, short films, and annotated bibliographies that have been collated with an algorithm that is linked to the tide tables in the three cities.

I have published numerous articles in Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Canadian Literature, Studies in Canadian Literature, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, BC Studies, Journal of Asian American Studies, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, University of Toronto Quarterly, positions: asia critique, and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Asian American and Pacific Islander Literature and Culture. I have also published poetry and creative non-fiction in Brick, Ricepaper, The Goose, The Kindling, untethered and Catapult Magazine.

I teach courses in transnational literatures, decolonizing literatures, spatial theory, environmental humanities, and the literature of Empire. I have also taught courses in transnational Canadian literature, cultural studies, and the short story. 


Book chapters:

2021 “Theatre doesn’t change anything”: “Merdeka/ 獨立 /சுதந்திரம்” and the Performance of the Singapore Bicentennial. Raffles Renounced: Towards a Merdeka History. Eds. Lysa Hong, Sai Siew Min, Alfian Sa’at, and Faris Joraimi. Singapore: Ethos Books. 

2019  "Transpacific Spaces and Asian Canadian Literature." In J. Lee (general editor), F. Cheung, J. Ho, A. Mannur, and C. Schlund-Vials (Eds.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Asian American and Pacific Islander Literature and CultureOxford, UK: Oxford UP.

2017 "Strangers, Surrogates, Lovers: Foreign Domestic Workers in Contemporary Singapore Texts." In A. Poon and A. Whitehead (Eds.), Current Directions in Singapore Literature and Culture: Local and Global Contexts. Oxford, UK: Routledge.

Peer-reviewed journal articles:

2021 with Juria Toramae, ila, and Robert Zhao Renhui, "Field Notes, Fluidities, and Fictional Archives: Transmedial Photography and Singapore’s Altered Coastlines." Trans Asia    Photography  Review. Ed.Thy Phu.

2021 “Reading the Nonhuman.” in “small, deferred: On Souvankham Thammavongsa’s Writing” Ed. Vinh Nguyen. Canadian Literature 241: 128-130.   

2020 ""this land was the sea": The Intimacies and Ruins of Transnational Sand in Singapore." Verge: Studies in Global Asias, 6.2 Infrastructure

2020 "Reading New Asian Tropicalities in Contemporary Singapore." positions: asia critique 28.4

2020 "Lost Islands, Future Islands: Reading Wayde Compton’s The Outer Harbour Relationally." University of Toronto Quarterly. 89.1 Special Issue: "Literary Solidarities / Critical Accountability." 

2020 "Circumventing the Archive: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye and To Singapore, with Love." Verge: Studies in Global Asias, 6.1 Displaced Subjects

2018 "Lost Islands and Saltwater Cities." “The Minor Transpacific: A Roundtable.” BC Studies no. 198, Summer.

2017 "Renovating Vancouver: Transnational Constructions and Mortgages in Sachiko Murakami’s Rebuild." Journal of Asian American Studies 20.2: 139-160. Print

2015 “‘A delicate pellet of dust’: Dissident Flash Fictions from Contemporary Singapore.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing. 51.6: 723–736. Print.

2012 “Beyond the Multiculture: Transnational Toronto in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For.” Studies in Canadian Literature 37.2 (2012): 192-212. Print.

2012 “Mis-mappings and Mis-duplications: Interdiscursivity and the Poetry of Wayde Compton.” Canadian Literature 214 (2012): 47-66. Print.

2011 “‘Between home and home’: Crossings and Coastlines in the Poetry of Boey Kim Cheng.” Southeast Asian Review of English 50 (2010/2011): Print.

2010 “The Future of Nostalgia: Reclaiming Memory in Tan Pin Pin’s Invisible City and Alfian Sa’at’s A History of Amnesia”. Journal of Commonwealth Literature 45.1 (2010): 115-130. Print.

Selected non-refereed publications:

2018  "Gestures of Resistance: An Interview with Tan Pin Pin." Senses of Cinema.

2016 “An Interview with Denise Chong and Madeleine Thien” The Puritan, Spring Supplement

2013 “Echoing the City: Notes on Re-watching Tan Pin Pin’s Singapore GaGa.” ISSUE 2, LaSalle College of the Arts (Fall 2013). Print.

2011 “Placenames and Poetry: Urban Memory in Contemporary Singapore.” Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore 10.3 (2011). Web.

2007 “Monolingual Exile: Language, Autobiography and Exteriority in Shirley Lim”. Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore 6.2 (2007). Web.

Book reviews:

2017 "Do Not Say We Have Nothing and Points of Origin." Wasafiri 91

2016 “Fantasy Islands: Chinese Dreams and Ecological Fears in an Age of Climate Crisis by Julie Sze.” English Language Notes 54.2 Fall/Winter 

2016 “Not Like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience by Rey Chow.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry (forthcoming).

2013 “Cherian George’s Freedom from the Press.” Southeast Asian Studies 2.3.

2012 “The Chinese-ness of Chinese Food.” Singapore Review of Books, December 12.

Artistic Works

(2021). "My Elusive Petrofictions." [creative non-fiction] Brick, a Literary Journal. Issue 107.

(2021). "Eden." [poem] Isle: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment.

(2021). Three poems. Softblow Poetry Journal. 

(2020). "This is Singapore": Watching Westworld in the Diaspora. [creative non-fiction] Evergreen Review.

(2019). "A Small Space." [creative non-fiction] Brick, a Literary Journal. Issue 104

(2019). "Jewel." [creative non-fiction] The Town Crier. "Urban Ephemera."

(2018). “The Sea Decides.” [short story] The Goose: A Journal of Arts, Environment, and Culture in Canada. vol. 17 , no. 1 , article 31

(2018). “seas move away,” “City Gallery” [poetry]. Oxford, UK/Singapore: The Kindling Issue 5

(2018). “Mity Macho, or, Objects in Flight.” [flash fiction] untethered anthology. Toronto, ON: Applebeard Press. June

(2018). “On Loss” [poetry]. Currents, A Ricepaper Anthology. Eds. Karla Comanda, Leila Lee and William Tham. Vancouver BC: Asian Canadian Writers Workshop. September.

(2017). “On Dissidence,” “Bread and Salt,” “On Loss” [poetry]. Vancouver, BC: Ricepaper Magazine. February

(2016). “Journalism and Jiujitsu: The Gentle Arts of a Dictatorship” [Creative Non-Fiction] Catapult Magazine. October 21.

(2013). “Watching my grandmother eat fish” [poem]. Little Things: A Poetry Anthology. Singapore: Ethos Books.

Teaching & Supervision

ENG207 Introduction to Colonial and Decolonizing Literatures

ENG209 Transnational Literatures

ENG383 Decolonizing Literatures and Theories

ENG444 Decolonizing Speculative Fiction

ENG444 (Post)colonial Ecocriticism

ENG817 Spatial Texts, Literary Spaces

ENG811 (Post)colonial Ecologies, Decolonial Futures

ENG817 Reading Materials for the 21st century