Shu-mei Shih has been appointed UCLA's inaugural Edward W. Said Professor of Comparative Literature.
“I am thrilled and honored to be awarded a chair professorship that bears the name of one of my intellectual heroes. All of my work, one way or another, has been influenced by Edward Said’s scholarship and activism,” said Shih, a professor of comparative literature, Asian languages and cultures and Asian American studies. “I hope my work honors his legacy in return.”
Said (1935–2003) was a longtime professor of literature at Columbia University who founded the field of postcolonial studies and is widely known for his theory of Orientalism. The UCLA professorship has a three-year term, during which Shih plans to initiate an annual Edward W. Said lecture.
The professorship is one of many recent honors for Shih, who joined the UCLA faculty in 1993. In 2019, she became president-elect of the American Comparative Literature Association; she is currently the organization's vice president. In 2018, National Taiwan Normal University awarded her its distinguished alumna award and appointed her Honorary Chair Professor of Taiwan Languages, Literature and Culture.
Shih currently directs the UCLA–NTNU Taiwan Studies Initiative of the UCLA Asia Pacific Center, which supports the exchange of faculty and graduate students between the universities, and has been a fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities since 2013.