Tel: 310.825.4820 / Fax: 310.267.4339 / E-mail
Ph.D., Brown University, 2003
African American Literature, Anglophone African Literature, Black Atlantic/ Black Diaspora Studies, Novel, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Transnational American Literature, and Slavery Studies.
BOOKS AND EDITED VOLUMES
2014 Guest Editor, Special Issue: Africa and the Black Atlantic, Research in African Literatures. Volume 45, Number 3. LINK
2017 “We Need New Diasporas,” American Literary History, 29 4.1(Winter): 640-663. LINK
2017 “Third World Problems,” College Literature 44.4 (Fall): 467-474. LINK
2017 “The Genres of Guantánamo Diary: Postcolonial Reading and the War on Terror.” The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry. Special issue on Postcolonial Reading Publics, 4.1: 69-87.
2017 “Coming Home from Irony.” Interview with Percival Everett, Los Angeles Review of Books.
2017 “The Transnational Turn and Postcolonial Studies,” Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature, ed. Yogita Goyal. Cambridge University Press, 53-71.
2017 “Introduction: The Transnational Turn.” Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature, ed. Yogita Goyal. Cambridge University Press, 1-15. Reprinted in Journal of Transnational American Studies 8.1 LINK
2016 “Black Diaspora Literature and the Question of Slavery,” Edinburgh Companion to Atlantic Literary Studies, eds. Leslie Eckel and Claire Elliott, 146-160.
2016 “Romance and Realism.” Oxford History of the Novel in English. Volume 11: The Novel in Africa and the Atlantic World, ed. Simon Gikandi. Oxford University Press, 301-315.
2016 “African American Literature, Criticism, and Theory” (5000 words). The Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, eds. Sangeeta Ray, Henry Schwarz, José Luis Villacañas Berlanga, Alberto Moreiras, and April Shemak. Blackwell.
2015 “Gender and Geomodernisms” Cambridge Companion to the American Modernist Novel, ed. Joshua Miller. Cambridge University Press, 89-105.
2014 “A Deep Humanness, A Deep Grace.” Interview with Chris Abani, Research in African Literatures 45.3: 227-240. LINK
2014 “African Atrocity, American Humanity: Slavery and Its Transnational Afterlives,” Research in African Literatures. 45.3, 48-71. LINK
2014 “Black Nationalist Hokum: George Schuyler’s Transnational Critique.” African American Review. 47.1, 21-36. LINK
2011 “The Pull of the Ancestors: Slavery, Apartheid, and Memory in Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying and Cion.” Research in African Literatures. 42.2, 147-169. LINK
2010 “Towards an African Atlantic: Ama Ata Aidoo’s Diasporic Theater.” Atlantic Studies. 7.3, 241-261. LINK
2006 “The Gender of Diaspora in Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby.” Modern Fiction Studies. 52.2, 393-414. LINK
2003 “Theorizing Africa in Black Diaspora Studies: Caryl Phillips’s Crossing the River.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies. 12.1, 5-38. LINK
I am interested in modern and contemporary literature and the study of race and postcolonialism, with a particular emphasis on African American and African literature. My research and teaching explore the relation between race and empire, nation and diaspora, and past and present in a broad range of African diaspora literature from the nineteenth century to the present. Most of my work foregrounds the articulation of literary form with social and political change, with a view to rethinking questions of social justice and ethics in historical and continuing forms of inequality.
After studying in Tokyo and Delhi, I received my Ph.D. from Brown University. My first book, Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature (Cambridge UP, 2010), shifts the center of black diaspora studies by considering Africa as constitutive of black modernity, rather than its forgotten past. Reading romance in dialectical tension with realism, I show how shifts in genre map partitions of time and space, modernity and tradition, and national and transnational affiliations in the writing of Pauline Hopkins, W.E.B. Du Bois, Joseph Casely Hayford, Richard Wright, Chinua Achebe, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Caryl Phillips.
My current book, “Slavery and the Transnational Reinvention of Form,” traces contemporary ideas of the global to the Atlantic slave narrative, to rethink race and racial formation in a global frame. To understand forms of freedom and bondage today – from unlawful detention to sex trafficking to debt bondage to genocide to coerced migration – the book reads a vast range of contemporary literature, showing how the literary forms used to tell these stories derive from the antebellum genre of the slave narrative. Exploring the ethics and aesthetics of globalism, I forward alternative conceptions of human rights, proposing that the revival and proliferation of slave narratives offers not just a chance to rethink the legacy of slavery itself, but also to assess its ongoing relation to empire, race, and capital.
My work has been supported by fellowships from the ACLS (2016-2017), the NEH (Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, 2003-2004), and the University of California President’s Office (2007-2008). I currently serve as Editor of the journal, Contemporary Literature, for British and Anglophone Fiction, and as Second Vice President of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (A.S.A.P.). I am the Chair of the Publications Committee of the American Comparative Literature Association for 2015-2018, and serve on the Founding Editorial Board of Oxford Bibliographies in Literary and Critical Theory.
Since 2014, I have a split appointment with the Department of African American Studies. I regularly teach classes on slavery, African diaspora literature, the global novel, and postcolonial studies, and was the Director of Departmental Honors from 2013-2016. I am on sabbatical for academic year 2016-2017.