Singapore Literature

Singapore Culture and Literature in English is a significant area of focus in NTU English. Literary and cultural expression are an indispensable part of Singapore’s identity, manifesting both the commonality and multicultural richness of Singaporeans as a people. The stories, poems, plays and other imaginative artistic genres engage and challenge us with issues and shared experiences of the city-state’s people that span the entirety of the colonial era, the immediate nation-building years after independence, and right to our contemporary moment. Research and teaching interests at NTU English cover fiction, poetry, theatre, film and visual culture, and includes emergent areas of narrative study, such as Illness Narratives in the city-state, and related areas of interest such as Aesthetics and Ethics in contemporary Singapore literature. The department has close ties to the local literary and artistic scenes and has a creative writing programme which hosts writing residencies for national and international writers. In addition, NTU is home to Singapore Literature in English: An Annotated Bibliography, which is the first digital bibliography of the entire body of the nation’s literature written in the English language and in translation. NTU English is committed to Singapore Literature and Culture being a vital part of a larger comprehension of literature in English as a subject of study.

Faculty publications in this area, and in the related field of postcolonial studies, include The Asian Modern: Culture, Capitalist Development, Singapore by C. J. Wan-ling Wee (Hong Kong University Press, 2007), Sim Wai Chew’s 2019 translation of Singapore Chinese author Chia Joo Ming’s (谢裕民) novel Exile or Pursuit, Bede Scott’s Affective Disorders: Emotion in Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (Liverpool University Press, 2019), and Shirley Chew’s introduction to Madeleine Lee’s ‘impermanence: poems 2003—2022’ (firstfruits publications, 2023).

Further NTU English publications on Singapore Literature: 

Edited volume

C. J. W.-L. Wee and Quay Sy Ren (2020). Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 21(2), special issue on ‘Kuo Pao Kun: Art, Culture, Capitalism’.


 C. J. W.-L. Wee (2020). ‘Beyond National Identity: Kuo Pao Kun’s Contemporary Theatre and an Open Culture.’ Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 21(2), 151-65. 

C. J. W.-L. Wee (2018). ‘Body and Communication: The “Ordinary” Art of Tang Da Wu.” Theatre Research International, 42(3), 286-306.

Book chapters

C. J. W.-L. Wee (2017). ‘The Singapore Contemporary and Contemporary Art in Singapore.’ Charting Thoughts: Essays on Art in Southeast Asia. Singapore: National Gallery Singapore.


Related Courses

HL0201Images of Singapore: Literature, Film and CultureCandice Balete
HL1005Introduction to Singapore LiteratureDr Michelle Chiang
HL2008Singapore Literature and CultureDr C. J. W.-L. Wee
HL2009Southeast Asian Literature and CultureDr Cheryl Julia Lee
HL2041Asian Historical FictionDr Jane Wong
HL3007Postcolonial LiteratureDr Sim Wai Chew