- Ph.D., English, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1992
Minor: Afro-American Studies
- B.A., English and Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1984, with distinction
Areas of Interest
My research and teaching interests lie in African American and American literature, especially contemporary Black poetry. I published a scholarly monograph on the poetry of Rita Dove with University of Illinois Press (2003) and a book of substantial interviews with eight post-black arts movement poets with University of Georgia Press (2010). My most recent work, published in 2019 and 2020, on the poetry of Thylias Moss, Brenda Marie Osbey and Natasha Trethewey, is complemented by an ongoing interest in highlighting the poetic achievements of Wanda Coleman. I regularly present my scholarship on contemporary Black poetry as a panelist and keynote speaker at international conferences, most recently in Bergen, Shanghai, Warsaw, and Graz. Currently, I am working on a book project focused on Black ekphrastic poetry and serve as the elected chair of the advisory board for the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University, the nation’s first academic center for Black poetry. In the honors world, I am co-authoring a chapter for a National Collegiate Honors Council monograph on honors colleges; our chapter interrogates the prevalence of white male honors college deans, and what to do about it.
Selected Publications and Presentations
Into a Light Both Brilliant and Unseen: Conversations With Contemporary Black Poets. University of Georgia Press, 2010. http://www.ugapress.org/upload/F10Catalog_LO.pdf
Rita Dove’s Cosmopolitanism. Chicago, IL : University of Illinois Press, 2003. “Highly Recommended” by Choice, 2004
Embodying Beauty: Twentieth-Century American Women Writers’ Aesthetics. In series Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory: The Interaction of Text and Society. New York: Routledge (formerly Garland), 2000.
Selected Recent Articles:
“Thylias Moss’s Slave Moth: Liberatory Verse Narrative and Performance Art.” Slavery and the Post-Black Imagination. Eds. Bert Ashe and Ilka Saal. U Washington P, 2020.
“An Angry, Mixed Race Cosmopolitanism: Race, Privilege, Poetic Identity, and Community in Natasha Trethewey’s Beyond Katrina and Thrall.” New Cosmopolitanisms, Race and Ethnicity: Cultural Perspectives. Eds. Ewa Barbara Luzcak, Anna Pochmara and Samir Dayal. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019. 254-274.
“Brenda Marie Osbey’s Black Internationalism.” Diasporas, Cultures of Mobilities, ‘Race’ 3: African Americans, ‘Race’ and Diaspora. Montpellier: PULM, 2015 (Rpt. in Summoning Our Saints: The Poetry and Prose of Brenda Marie Osbey. Lexington Books, 2019)
“Wanda Coleman’s ‘Retro Rogue Anthology’ in Mercurochrome.” Hecate Focus Section: Wanda Coleman. 40.1 (2014): 97-115.
“Re-Reading Trethewey through Mixed Race Studies.” Special Issue on Natasha Trethewey, ed. Joan Wylie Hall. The Southern Quarterly: A Journal of Arts and Letters in the South 50.4 (Summer 2013): 123-152.
Selected Recent Papers/Keynotes Presented at Conferences:
“Ekphrasis as Resistance: Contemporary African American Poets’ Response to Artistic Monuments.” Nordic Association for American Studies Conference. Bergen, Norway. April 25-27, 2019.
“Flying Home? Race, Identity, and Transnational Kinship in Contemporary Black Poetry.” MESEA Conference. Graz, Austria, May 30-June 2, 2018.
Keynote Address, “Slave Moth: Research, Poetry, and New Ideas about Slavery.” Norfolk State University Undergraduate Research Conference, March 21, 2018
“Afropolitanism.” Workshop panelist, The Collegium for African American Research Conference, Malàga, Spain, June 13-16, 2017.
Keynote Address, “Cosmopolitan Practices in Contemporary African American Poetry: Ekphrasis in Yusef Komunyakaa’s and Natasha Trethewey’s Work.” Sixth Annual International Conference on English and American Literature: “Cosmopolitanism, Individual and Community.” Shanghai International Studies University, April 20-21, 2017
“Becoming a Minority Cosmopolitan: Reading Natasha Trethewey’s Mixed Race Identity from Beyond Katrina to Thrall.” MESEA Conference. Warsaw, Poland, June 22-24, 2016.
“The Politics of Memorializing Family and Place: The Poetry of Natasha Trethewey and the Photography of LaToya Ruby Frazier.” The Collegium for African American Research Conference, Liverpool, UK, June 24-27, 2015.
“Wanda Coleman’s ‘Retro Rogue Anthology’ in Mercurochrome.” Roundtable, “Remembering – and Not Forgetting – Wanda Coleman.” Modern Language Association Convention, Vancouver, BC, January 6-11, 2015.
Opening Keynote Address, “The Poetry of Wanda Coleman and Natasha Trethewey.” Polish Association of American Studies. University of Bialystok, Poland. Oct 22-24, 2014.
“Crossing Race and Class: Natasha Trethewey’s Mixed Race Interrogations in Beyond Katrina.” MESEA conference. Saarbrücken, Germany, May 28-31, 2014.
Selected Invited Presentations:
“Nellie McKay and the Art of Mentoring.” Modern Language Association Conference. Philadelphia, PA, Dec 27-30, 2006.
Nellie McKay and Black Women’s Studies: A Symposium. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Madison, WI, April 1, 2006.
- National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Fellowship, 2000
- Undergraduate Research Initiative Grant, UNC General Administration, 2006-07
Contemporary Black Poetry and Visual Art; African American Poetics; Teaching African American Literature; Contemporary African American Poetry (1980s-1990s); Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes; Twentieth-Century African American Poetics; Rita Dove; African American Literary Theory and Criticism; Modernist American Poetry; Major Black Poets; Introduction to English Studies.
African American Poetry; Oprah’s Books; Major American Author–Toni Morrison; Modern American Literature–1920 to present; American Literature survey ENGL 3300; Black Women Writers; Approaches to Literature ENGL 3100; Three African American Women Writers; Twentieth-Century Black Poetry and Drama; Twentieth-Century British and American Literature.
Inquiry Into the Visual Arts; Reading in Slow Motion
- English Department
- Professor, 2007-present
- Associate Professor, 1998-2007
- Assistant Professor, 1992-1998
- Affiliate Faculty, Africana Studies Department, 1992-present
- Adjunct Faculty, Women’s and Gender Studies, 2009-present
- Executive Director, Honors College, 2012 to present
- Chair, English Department, 2007-2012
- Interim Chair, Africana Studies Department, 2006-2007
- English Learning Community Founder & Coordinator, 2005-2007
- Undergraduate Coordinator, English Department, 1999-2003
- “Outstanding Faculty Member,” Student Support Services (TRIO), 2001
- “Outstanding Mentor,” Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, 1995 and 1997