Professional and Biographical Information


PhD, University of Illinois, Chicago 


I teach twentieth- and twenty-first century African American women’s literature and culture classes that pair traditional reading assignments with a mosaic of film, art, and music. Students in my courses examine diverse novels by Toni Morrison, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker, Nella Larsen, and Ann Petry; analyze art by Lorna Simpson at the Mead Art Museum; visit Sojourner Truth’s home in Northampton; and explore the musical legacy of Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin. This sonic, visual, and kinesthetic tapestry emboldens students to broaden their critical thinking and textual analysis skills, while providing them with a foundation for completing thoughtful writing projects and inspiring visual essays.

My “Black Women’s Narratives and Counter-narratives” class assignment was featured in the New York Times.


Sculpted from my broader teaching interests, my research troubles the institution of marriage in the late twentieth- and early twenty-first century or what I call the “Post-Black Power era,” through an examination of fiction, music, and visual culture. In particular, my project analyzes the ways in which black women’s bodies and family formation are politicized and made public by three sociopolitical dynamics: the collapse of black radical organizations in the late 1970s and early '80s; the growing tension between black respectability and an alleged black sexual pathology; and policies that buttress the importance of heterosexual marriage, such as the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (PRWOA).  Bridging the fields of feminist and cultural studies as well as African American and American literature, my current research interrogates how writers and artists unmask the increasing politicization of African American family formation mobilized by popular discourse and government regulation of the so-called private sphere.    

I have delivered talks at Saint Joseph’s University, the University of Hull-Yorkshire, England’s Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE), National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), the Collegium for African American Research (CAAR), American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), American Studies Association (ASA), the American Literature Association (ALA), and the Multi-ethnic Literatures of the US (MELUS) conference.


My most recent essay, “The Rebirth of Queer: Mutation, Kinship & Solitude in Dee Rees’s Pariah" is in African American Culture and Society After Rodney King: Provocations and Protests, Progression and 'Post-Racialism' Jo Metcalf and Carina Spaulding (eds). Ashgate: London. July 2015.

My essay, "Black Political & Popular Culture: The Legacy of Richard Iton" is in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. December 2014.

Book Reviews

"Red, Black, & Left: Communist Counterdiscourses" review of The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s (Columbia UP, 2014), by Mary Helen Washington, Women's Studies Quarterly

Review of Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism  (Duke UP, 2011) by Erik McDuffie, Women's Studies Quarterly

Reference Publications

Encyclopedia of Race & Racism, 2e. "Oprah Winfrey." Gale Cengage, 2012.

Fellowships & Awards

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

Crossroads in the Study of the Americas (CISA) Fellowship, Five Colleges, Inc, 2015-2016

Amherst College Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI) Fellowship, 2015-2016

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.

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

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

Image of Research Competition, (Finalist), 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