Professional and Biographical Information

Research 

A book cover titled Veil and Vow with two people dressed in white holding a red rope

Veil & Vow: Marriage Matters in Contemporary
African American Culture

University of North Carolina Press | Gender and American Culture Series

My broad interdisciplinary research interests include sexuality, women's and gender studies, African American studies, and cultural studies.

Supported by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Mellon Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Program, my book project, Veil & Vow: Marriage Matters in Contemporary African American Culture (University of North Carolina Press | Gender and American Culture Series), places familiar, politicized questions about the crisis of African American marriage in conversation with a rich, but underexamined cultural archive that includes fiction by Terry McMillan and Sister Souljah, music by Anita Baker, and films such as The Best Man.  Moving beyond simple assessments of marriage as "good" or "bad," Veil & Vow critically examines popular and influential late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century texts alongside legislation such as the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and the Welfare Reform Act, which masked true sources of inequality with crisis-laden myths about African American family formation. Using an interdisciplinary framework to highlight the influence of law, politics, and culture on marriage representations and practices, my project reveals how their kinship veils and unveils the fiction in political policy as well as the complicated political stakes of fictional and cultural texts. Providing a new opportunity to grapple with old questions, including who can be a citizen, a "wife," and "marriageable," Veil & Vow makes clear just how deeply marriage still matters in African American culture.

Fellowships & Awards

Invited Distinguished Scholar in Residence of the Black Feminist Theory Project, Brown University, Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women, 2017-2018

American Association of University Women Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowship, 2017-2018

Mellon Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship, 2017

Duke University Mellon Mays Summer Institute on Tenure and Professional Advancement (SITPA) Scholar, 2015-2017

Mellon Faculty Seminar, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, 2012

Robert E. Keiter 1957 Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor, Amherst College, Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies Department, 2012-2014

Five College Dissertation Fellowship, Amherst College, Women’s and Gender Studies Department, 2011-2012.

Dissertation Fellowship, Middle Tennessee State University, English Department, 2010-2011.

Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship, University of Illinois-Chicago, 2011

Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship, University of Illinois-Chicago, 2008

Grace Holt Memorial Award, University of Illinois-Chicago, 2008

School of Criticism & Theory Residency Award, Cornell University, 2006

Diversifying Faculty in Higher Education Fellowship, Illinois Board of Education, 2004

Teaching 

I teach a wide range of courses in the Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies (SWAGS) Department that explore a mosaic of African American literature, art, music, and film.  My SWAGS “Black Women’s Narratives and Counter-narratives” critical and creative visual essay assignment is featured in the February 5, 2014 issue of the New York Times. Black Women's Narratives is also listed in the June 2016 issue of Elle magazine as one of the “63 College Classes That Give Us Hope for the Next Generation.”