NYU Abu Dhabi appoints Soyinka Arts Professor of Theater


Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka has been appointed as Arts Professor of Theater at NYU Abu Dhabi. The appointment takes effect on September 1, 2022.

In a joint statement by Vice Chancellor, Mariet Westerman and Provost, Arlie Petters on the appointment of Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka dated August 23, 2022, the Institution expressed delight for having the Nobel Laureate join them as Arts Professor of Theater at NYU Abu Dhabi.

“Soyinka is a multifaceted artist-dramatist, poet, essayist, musician, philosopher, academic, teacher, human rights activist, and global artist and scholar. “His appointment is aligned with NYUAD’s Academic Strategy and its mission. He will play a key role in continuing to enhance the University’s standing within the arts and its growth as a preeminent research and teaching university and leader in global higher education”, it stated.

The statement further reads: “His class this fall, “Art, Literature, Citizenship and Culture,” will explore questions of citizenship and culture, how works of art can be said to “belong” to a country or culture and contribute to the work of shaping national or cultural identities. “The seminar will draw on diverse genres of literature from a range of times and places – from ancient Greece to the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary Turkey and eighteenth-century England.

“We are very proud and honored to have Soyinka, a world-renowned artist, academic, activist, a true citizen of the world and a Nobel laureate, join the NYUAD community. “Abu Dhabi is a transnational and transcultural hub for the exchange of Western and Eastern traditions in the arts and culture that makes NYUAD uniquely positioned to catalyze and lead new discourses in the field. We are excited to be home to Soyinka’s intellectual contributions that address and engage our world and history”.

Going further, the statement describes Soyinka as an intellectual who “has built an impressive legacy in Nigeria, his place of birth, as well as Africa and the entire world. The students he has taught and mentored, and the legion of teachers who have translated, developed, and extended his ideas, remain the most tangible and long-lasting legacy. “Our community is privileged to be part of that journey and his ongoing work that will impact generations to come.

Soyinka has published more than 90 works on culture and tradition, creativity and power, activism, and the artistic process. His most recent book published in 2021, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, is a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and has been described in the Los Angeles Times as a tour de force combining “elements of a murder mystery, a searing political satire and an Alice in Wonderland-like modern allegory of power and deceit.

“Soyinka has held positions at other higher education institutions, including Harvard, Yale, Duke, Emory, and Loyola Marymount in the US. He is also an active member of international, artistic, and human rights organizations”.

The statement reveals “Soyinka first came to NYUAD as Writer-in-Residence in 2020. His visit then was through a joint invitation from the African Studies, Film and New Media, History, Literature and Creative Writing, and Theater programs, hosted by the NYUAD Institute and supported by other offices across the University.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Awam Ampka, Dean of Arts and Humanities, for his outstanding leadership and critical role in this important appointment”.

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