Current Courses: Fall 2019

Glow Up Literature - English 418997189: African Diaspora Women Writers

In this course, we will read what I am calling “Glow Up Literature.” This body of work consists of popular non-fictional texts written by black women about their rise to celebrity and success. We will read these books not to gain the keys to building a successful media empire like Shondaland, but rather to consider black femaleness as a brand; to learn about how black women are writing about race, gender, and politics in the popular rather than literary sphere; and, most importantly, to think about what is conventional or not about this writing. We will, finally, address the question of how reading these works helps us to map the contemporary space of non-fictional writing by black women.

Our inquiry will take the form of a key terms approach designed to equip students with the concepts and terms that are central to critical discourses on African Diaspora women’s writing, and black writing more generally, including race, body, sexuality, feminism, and intersectionality. In this way, we will consider questions about the discourses with which African Diasporia women’s writing communicates, the aesthetic features of African Diaspora writing that Glow Up Literature engages, the ideas about race, gender, culture, immigration, and citizenship communicated by these features, how does the writing work to communicate these ideas, and in what ways does this writing address the realities of our present.

New Black Iconoclasm - English 8400: Seminar in African Diaspora Studies

Kenneth Warren’s provocative claim that “the collective enterprise we know as African American literature or black literature is of rather recent vintage,” serves as a point of departure for this seminar’s inquiry into contemporary African Diasporic prose fiction (What Was African American Literature 1). What (if anything) does Warren’s assertion of the past-ness of African American Literature offer us for understanding African Diasporic texts? What (if any) are the social, political, and economic impetuses and imperatives of the current moment in race-based writing and literary studies? From Marlon James’ graphically violent prose to Helen Oyeyemi’s bewildering narratives to Mat Johnson’s irreverent satire, contemporary African Diasporic fiction often does not look like what we have come to expect, both in form and in politics, from the tradition. 

In this seminar, we will examine authors and texts that are puzzling in their sometimes-irreverent rejection of the beliefs, institutions, and practices normalized in African diasporic discourses. Paying close attention to both the formal structures and the socio-historical, cultural, political, and intellectual backdrops of African diasporic literary and cultural studies, we will work towards a comprehensive understanding of the contemporary moment in African diasporic literature. Along with active participation in the seminar's discussion, this seminar's coursework includes a seminar paper, seminar paper proposal, abstract, and oral presentations.

Past Courses


 “The Contemporary Global Novel”

 “New Black Iconoclasm”

 “Gender and Sexuality in Caribbean Literature and Literary Theory”

“Contemporary Caribbean Literature and Literary Theory” 


“Reading Literature” (Large lecture)

“The Contemporary Caribbean Novel”

“The Neo-slave Narrative” (Capstone Experience)

“African Diaspora Women Writers” (Writing Intensive)

“Major Authors: Derek Walcott and Sir V.S. Naipaul”

“Major Authors: Edwidge Danticat and Junot Díaz” (Writing Intensive)

“The Caribbean Novel” (Writing Intensive)

“Caribbean Literature”

“Contemporary World Literature” (Writing Intensive)

“Caribbean Literature and Popular Culture”

“Consuming the Caribbean”

“Contemporary Literature and Catastrophe”

“Introduction to African Diaspora Literature”    

“Caribbean Masculinity”