Dato' Professor Ghulam Sarwar Yousof

Dato' Professor Ghulam Sarwar Yousof

Fiction is the art of imagination which allows young people to get insights into reality, while at the same time allowing for the development of creativity, mental discipline and a control of language.


Ghulam Sarwar Yousof (b. 1939) graduated in English from the University of Malaya (1964), and did a Doctorate in Asian Theatre at the University of Hawaii (1976). He is one of Malaysia’s most distinguished scholars, and one of the world’s leading specialists of traditional Southeast Asian theatre. Professor Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof was responsible for setting up Malaysia’s first Performing Arts programme at the Science University of Malaysia (USM) in Penang in 1970. He served at that university as lecturer and Associate Professor. He joined the Cultural Centre, University of Malaya (UM) as Professor in 2002. Currently he is Adjunct Professor at the Centre, and also Director of The Asian Cultural Heritage Centre Berhad, a private research initiative set up by him to promote research in traditional Asian cultures.

As a lecturer at USM and UM as well as part-time lecturer at University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), National Arts Academy (ASK/ASWARA), University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) and Sunway College, Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Literature and Performing Arts, in a wide range of topics: Theatre of India, China and Japan, Southeast Asian Theatre, Malay Traditional Theatre, The Shadow Play, Mak yong, Bangsawan, Modern Indian Drama, Western Theatre History, Theories of the Theatre, Playwriting, Western Classical Drama, Shakespeare, Romantic Poetry, Odes and Sonnets, Malaysian-Singapore Literature in English, Southeast Asian Art History, Research Methodology and Aesthetics.

Apart from traditional theatre, his major interests include Asian literature, folklore studies, as well as South- and Southeast Asia cultures, comparative religion, mythology and, Sufism. In ethnographic and folklore studies he has explored Malay-Indonesian mythology and folk literature, Malay concepts of the soul (semangat), and traditional healing processes. He has published papers in all of these areas. (See Research/Publications).

In literature, apart from producing original work in the form of poetry, drama and short stories, he has written papers on Malaysian-Singapore Literature, done a translation of Kalidasa’s Shakuntala as well as translations of Urdu poetry into English. Professor Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof’s most outstanding contribution to academia is in traditional Southeast Asian Theatre. In this area he has carved a unique niche for himself, with meticulous field work and research, in some previously unexplored genres, resulting in the most important existing publication, his Dictionary of Traditional Southeast Asian Theatre. His vast collection of fieldwork materials and documentation is currently held by the Asian Cultural Heritage Centre Berhad.

Professor Ghulam-Sarwar Yousof has held visiting positions at several universities, has lectured in many countries on a broad spectrum of culture-related subjects and on altogether unclassifiable disciplines alike to absolute novices and specialized audiences. He has also given readings of his poetry and short stories. He has been, over the decades involved in various capacities in numerous cultural organizations, national and international.

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