Assistant Professor of African American Literature and Culture
She teaches African American literature courses that seek after the many ways that people experience blackness as a racial identity, as a cultural category, or as a mark upon the skin. At a time when social media responds to the deaths of unnamed black men and women with #blacklivesmatter, her courses question: what makes life matter, what literature is, and what race or culture means, historically and at present. These questions find their way into her book project, Reading Pleasures (University of Illinois' New Black Studies series, under contract), which examines the ways in which eighteenth-century enslaved and/or free men and women feel good or experience pleasure in spite of the privations of slavery, “unfreedom,” or white supremacy. Her research and writing have received generous financial support from the Digital THINC Lab and the University of Guelph, the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Antiquarian Society, Library Company of Philadelphia and the Program in African American History, Rutgers University, University of Pennsylvania’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and College of Charleston. Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Common-Place, Early American Literature, Legacy, J19, Criticism, and American Periodicals.
Stories guide our lives. They teach us how to make meaning and how to make sense of meaning. In this course, we will read. We will read twenty-first century novels by African American authors and consider how they make meaning and how this meaning comes to represent our individual, collective and national stories. We'll consider the following questions: What is a story? What makes a story? How does meaning inform our reading of stories or our telling? Authors may include: Toni Morrison, Kiese Laymon, Jesmyn Ward, D. Watkins, Chimamanda Adichie.