Sharpe, Jenny


Kaplan 274
Tel: 310.825.4173 / Fax: 310.267.4339 / E-mail / Wikipedia


Jenny Sharpe is a Professor of English, Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature. She received a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. She taught at Boston College before joining UCLA’s English department in 1993. Her areas of research and teaching are postcolonial studies, Caribbean literatures, gender studies, the novel, literary archives of slavery and empire, and the black Atlantic.

Prof. Sharpe is author of Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text (Minnesota 1993), which provides historically-grounded readings of Anglo-Indian fiction for how the topos of interracial rape helped manage a crisis in British colonial authority. Her book has been widely reviewed and is considered a classic in postcolonial studies. Her second book, Ghosts of Slavery: A Literary Archeology of Black Women’s Lives (Minnesota 2002,) challenges the equation of subaltern agency with resistance and self-determination, and introduces new ways to examine black women’s negotiations for power within the constraints of slavery. Her most recent book, Immaterial Archives: An African Diaspora Poetics of Loss (Northwestern 2020), explores the intangible phenomena of affects, spirits, and dreams that Afro-Caribbean artists and writers introduce into colonial archives for breaking the categories of archival knowledge and their accompanying notions of “the human.”

Prof. Sharpe has published widely on the gendering of the black Atlantic and cultural theories of globalization. Her recent research addresses the literary turn in archival studies from the perspective of Caribbean literature that provides black female alternatives to historicism’s linear temporality and the presumed materiality of the archives.

Her work has been supported by the ACLS, the Hutchins Center at Harvard University, UC President’s Research, the Rockefeller Foundation, the UC Humanities Research Center, and Pembroke Center at Brown University.


Select Publications

Life, Labor, and a ‘Coolie’ Picturesque in Jamaica.” Small Axe 68 (July 2022): 24-45.

Immaterial Archives: An African Diaspora Poetics of Loss. Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 2020.

Ghosts of Slavery: A Literary Archeology of Black Women’s Lives. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

Thinking ‘Diaspora’ with Stuart Hall.” Qui Parle 27.1 (June 2018): 21-46.

What Use Is the Imagination?” PMLA 129: 3 (May 2014): 512-17.

The Archive and Affective Memory in M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong!” Interventions 16: 4 (Jul 2014): 465-82.

When Spirits Talk: Reading Erna Brodber’s Louisiana for Affect,” Small Axe 39 (November 2012): 90-102.

“Figures of Colonial Resistance.” In Postcolonial Literary Studies: The First Thirty Years, ed. Robert P. Marzec (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).

“The Middle Passages of Black Migration.” Atlantic Studies 6: 1 (2009): 97-112.

Plunder and Play: Éduoard Duval-Carrié’s Artistic Visions.” Callaloo 30: 2 (Summer 2007): 561-69.

“Sweetest Taboo: Studies of Caribbean Sexualities.” Review essay co-authored with Samantha Pinto, Signs 32: 1 (Autumn 2006): 247-74.

“Gender, Nation, and Globalization in Monsoon Wedding and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.” Meridians 6: 1 (2005): 58-81.

“Cartographies of Globalisation, Technologies of Gendered Subjectivities: The Dub Poetry of Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze.” Gender and History 15: 3 (2003): 439-58.

“A Conversation with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Politics and the Imagination.” Signs 28: 2 (Winter 2003): 609-24.

“Postcolonial Studies in the House of US Multiculturalism.” Blackwell’s Companion to Postcolonial Studies, ed. Sangeeta Ray and Henry Schwarz (London: Blackwell, 1999): 112-25.

“‘The Limits of What Is Possible’: Reimagining sharam in Salman Rushdie’s Shame.” Jouvert 1: 1 (Fall 1997).

“‘Something Akin to Freedom’: The Case of Mary Prince.” differences 8: 1 (1996): 31-56.

“Is the United States Postcolonial? Transnationalism, Immigration, and Race.” Diaspora 4:2 (Fall 1995): 181-199.

“The Violence of Light in the Land of Desire; or, How William Jones Discovered India.” boundary 2 20: 2 (Winter 1992): 26-46.

Interest Areas
• Postcolonial Theory / Transnational Studies
• Sexuality & Gender Studies
• British Literature & Culture, 19th C. – Present
• African American Literature & Culture / Black Diaspora Studies
• Critical Theory