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Abioseh Porter, Professor of English, Department of English and Philosophy, Drexel University

Abioseh Porter, PhD

Director, Africana Studies
Professor of English
Department of English and Philosophy
Center for Interdisciplinary Study
Africana Studies
Office: 5016 MacAlister Hall


  • PhD, Comparative Literature, University of Alberta, 1984
  • BA, English & French/Post Graduate Diploma in Education, Fourah Bay College


I was born and raised in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I am a Professor of English at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. I also was Department Head of the Department of English & Philosophy at Drexel from May 2002-December 2015. I served as the founding editor of the Journal of the African Literature Association (JALA) from 2007-2017 and was also editor of JALA’s predecessor, the ALA Bulletin from 1998-2007. After earning a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Alberta, Canada, I received a "Society for the Humanities" postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University and was also a senior postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Prior to coming to Drexel, I taught at the University of Alberta and at Grambling State University, Louisiana. I have published mainly on African authors while my teaching interests span several areas in both the western and non-western literary traditions. I recently was awarded a 2019-2020 Fulbright research fellowship in France (Université Paul-Valéry III) and also received the 2019 “Harold M. Myers Award for Distinguished Service” at Drexel. These awards follow others such as the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1991,”the most dedicated professor" for the year 2002 by the Drexel Undergraduate Student body, and the Faculty Member of the Year for 2002-2003 by The Drexel Minority Achievement Program. The African Literature Association also honored me not only by naming me the Association’s “Distinguished Member of the Year” in 2017 but also inaugurated the “Abioseh Porter Award for Best Essay Published in The Journal of the African Literature Association (JALA).

Favorite Authors and/or Books: Achebe, Adichie, Armah, Beyala, Bhely-Quénum, Emily Bronte, Cheney-Coker, Dickens, Emecheta, George Eliot, Ellison, Flaubert, Aminatta Forna, Hardy, Mallarmé, Marquez, McEwan, Morrison, Alexander Pope, Proust, Rimbaud, Rushdie, Shakespeare, Soyinka, Mark Twain, Yvonne Vera, The Bible, The Gita, among others.

Personal Interests and Hobbies: Reading (365 days a year); photography; travel; technological gadgetry; music, especially old school reggae; African; classical; Jazz.

Favorite TV Shows: Link TV; House Hunters International; Some public TV, especially Brit coms.

One thing that makes me smile is: Being with "la merveille."

Two Pet Peeves: Smoking around me (it's a real health issue for me folks); witnessing mean behavior.

One reason I like my job is: After all these years, I know the vast majority of my students and colleagues respect me for what I do.

Recent Invited/Refereed Lectures/Presentations 

  • Invited or refereed presentations Presented at the annual meeting (Virtual, this year) of the African Literature Association (ALA).
  • May 28, 2021 “On Teju: The Team Player and Ideas Promoter,” Memorial Panel for the Late Tejumola Olaniyan, Editor-in-chief of JALA from 2017-2019.
  • May 27, 2021 Round Table Panelist: on “Themes, Trends, Theories: Critical Routes for Research in African Literature in the 21st Century.”
  • May 26, 2021, “Using the City and Other Areas as Arenas to Combat Censorship”.
  • May 24-25, 2019 “Movement, Pain, and Suffering in Contemporary West African Fiction,” Body in Motion, Travelling Bodies Conference, Université Paris 8, France.
  • March 23, 2019 “Migrating from Europe to America, You are an “Expat;” Migrating from Africa, you are an “Immigrant” or Worse: Migration in Contemporary West African Fiction,” Migrating World: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Migration and Integration Conference, University of Greenwich, London, UK.
  • March 17-19, 2018  “If there is no evil within, the evil on the outside cannot do you harm’ [African Proverb]: Questions of Alterity and Notions of Evil in Contemporary West African Fiction,” paper presented at “Faces of Evil Conference,” Lisbon, Portugal.
  • June 14-17, “On Aminatta Forna,” African Literature Association Conference, Yale University, New Haven CT.
  • November 8-10, 2016. “Sierra Leonean Authors and the Re-writing of National Literary History.”  Presented at “The Verbal Text & National Literary Historiography: An Interdisciplinary Conference,” Queen Mary College, University of London, UK.
  • July 19-25, 2016. “Recognizing, Knowing, and Understanding Diversity at Home and Abroad in Recent African Fiction,” Congress of International Comparative Literature Association, Vienna Austria.
  • November, 26-28, 2015. "'Expats,' 'Immigrants,' 'Illegals,' 'Nationals,' and Alterity in Recent West African Fiction: Narrating West Africa, Europe, and the US in our Contemporary World," to be presented at 40e Congrès de la société française de littérature générale et comparée, Université Picardie Jules Verne (Amiens), France.
  • June 3-6, 2015. Chair of Panel on "Narrations of/and Aesthetics" and Presenter of Paper on "Narrating West Africa, Europe, and the US in Modern Ways: Examples of New West African Fiction in the 21st Century," ALA Annual Conference, University of Bayreuth, Germany.
  • September 9-11, 2014. "Something Truly Interesting Coming From Sierra Leone: Fiction During the Past Decade," African Studies Association, United Kingdom (ASAUK), Conference, University of Sussex, UK.
  • July 28-31, 2014. "Turning Alterity Upside Down: Some Examples from New West African Fiction, Plenary Address at "Representing Alterity in society in crisis: The Construction and Representation of the Other in Society and in Texts" Conference, University of Genoa, Italy.

Recent Academic Awards and Distinctions

  • Awarded a 2019-2020 Fulbright research fellowship in France (Université Paul-Valéry III)
  • Received the 2019 “Harold M. Myers Award for Distinguished Service” at Drexel.
  • April 2017, Inauguration of the “Abioseh Porter Award for Best Essay Published in The Journal of the African Literature Association (JALA),” at the Annual Meeting of the African Literature Association, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
    • Part of the citation for the award reads as follows:
      "Over many decades, Abioseh Porter has been a permanent fixture at ALA conferences, and since 1998, he has attended all ALA EC meetings and all ALA EC retreats that have been held at ALA Headquarters wherever that may be. The ALA values his service as the longest- serving EC member in the history of the ALA and the fact that he "single-handedly" did the groundwork and edited the ALA Bulletin, and later JALA: Journal of the African Literature Association, now a Routledge/Taylor Francis journal…The EC decided at the November 2016 retreat in Geneva, NY, to rename the “Best Essay Award” as the “Abioseh Porter Best Essay Award.”
  • April 2017, Awarded the "Distinguished Member of the Year,” African Literature Association, at the Annual Meeting of the Association, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

Selected Publications:

  • “Pourquoi l’uzège ? propos d’Olympe Bhêly-Quenum,” Recueillis par Abioseh Michael Porter, in La Nouvelle Cigale Uzégeoise, Uzes, France, numéro vingt-trois ,juin 2021, 40-45
  • “Paying Tribute to One of Africa’s [Genuine] Literary Heavyweights: Eustace James Taiwo Palmer,” JALA (Journal of the African Literature Association, 15.1, 152-160 (2021) Abioseh Porter (2021) “Paying tribute to one of Africa’s [genuine] literary heavyweights: Eustace James Taiwo Palmer”, Journal of the African Literature Association, 15:2, 152-160, DOI: 10.1080/21674736.2021.1900267
  • Knowledge is more than mere words. Wey Dehn Sey? Dehn Sey Kapu Sehns Nor Kapu Word: A Critical Introduction to Sierra Leonean Literature (edited with Eustace Palmer)Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2008.
  • "Non-Conventional Literary Media: New Poetic Voices on the Internet," in Knowledge is more than mere words.Wey Dehn Sey? Dehn Sey Kapu Sehns Nor Kapu Word: A Critical Introduction to Sierra Leonean Literature (with Eustace Palmer) (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2008), 315-338 
  • "Fictional Worlds, Symbolism and Struggles of (Under-)Development: Kolawole Omotoso's 'The Combat,'" West African Worlds Paths Through Socio-Economic Change, Livelihoods and Development Harlow, UK: Pearson,/Prentice Hall, 2005, 87-108. 
  • "Revitalizing an Existing Cultural Phenomenon: Treatment of the Abiku in La Naissance d'abikou and Les Appels du voudou by Olympe Bhêly Quénum" in, and published in Melanges offerts à Olympe Bhêly-Quénum (Paris: Gallimard, 2002).
  • "Un anglophone et la francophonie" in Autrement memes: Homages à Roger Little Cass, London, 2002. 
  • "The 'New' New Jerusalem in Contemporary West African Fiction,"  Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Vol. 4, No. 2, Winter 2000 (, 21 pp (North Carolina State University) (republished in Emerging Perspectives on Syl Cheney Coker , Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2014).