Scholar. Writer. Intellectual Activist .
“The classroom…remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility
we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand…an openness of mind and heart
that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries.”
-- bell hooks
ABBREVIATED TEACHING PHILOSOPHY:
In many respects, bell hooks’ assertion encapsulates my objective as a teacher: that is, to enrich my
students’ lives through a pedagogy that presents them with varied perspectives and paradigms by which to
critically analyze traditional concepts and ways of thinking. At the heart of my philosophy and practice is
empowering students to further develop an openness and consciousness in their approaches to not only the
subject matters at hand, but also to social constructs and society at large.
RECENT COURSES & COURSE SYLLABI:
**click on course title to access syllabus
In this course, we will study African American cultural expression, poetics, and lyricism namely (though not exclusively) from the Harlem Renaissance/New Negro Movement to contemporary hip hop. Engaging these within the sociocultural, historical, and political contexts in which they were produced, we will analyze various types of African American expressive cultural production and/as forms of resistance and protest, as well as how hip hop is both rooted in and deviates from these very traditions. As such, we will examine the political, ideological, and artistic foundations of hip hop as a discursive, lyrical, and rhetorical mode of communication and culture. What are the correlations between hip hop and other black expressive culture and literary traditions? In what ways does it--and other genres within black culture--engage issues and notions of identity, race, gender, sexuality, violence, and other political and non-political topics? And, what are the shifts in black expressive culture, lyricism, poetics, and aesthetics over generations, geographical locations, gender, sexual orientation, and other identity politics?
In this interdisciplinary course, we will explore representations and social constructions of race, gender & sexuality. How and in what ways, that is, do particular narratives regarding black women and black female sexualities manifest and are entrenched in literature, cultural production, and various types of media that range from music videos, reality television, magazines and print culture to social media, web series, and film, among other venues? Drawing upon critical frameworks informed by feminist theories, gender and sexuality studies, critical race and performance theories, and intersectional paradigms, this course analyzes and explores black female sexualities--and black sexual politics more generally--as represented and constructed in the literary, historical, and cultural imagination and in society at large.
This course explores the intersections of race, media, and culture. In what ways, that is, does race—as a social construct and category—function as a “fiction,” a contrived dynamic, that simultaneously informs and impacts the realities of individuals’ lived experiences? How does race manifest in various media and cultural productions, wherein circulate particular narratives, representations, discourses, and ideas of what constitutes “normative” identity? And, how do certain technologies and media culture—mediated reality, web series, and social media platforms to video streaming, films, reality television, and user-generated video hosts, among others—digitize race, while also serving as alternative locations for voices otherwise marginalized in customary or “mainstream” contexts? Drawing on race and media theories, scholarship, and different types of media and new technologies—alongside analysis of media treatments that range from #Ferguson and Orange Is the New Black to web series Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl—we will explore fundamental questions to more fully and critically understand how race is inscribed and interpolated in contemporary media, culture, and society.
This course examines African American literature, primarily from the late eighteenth century through Reconstruction to 1900, in the historical, cultural, socio-political and literary contexts in which it was produced. To this end, we will examine various types of African American literary and expressive cultural productions: folk narratives and songs, autobiographies, slave narratives, essays, speeches, poetry, and short fiction, among others. We will also read these texts alongside ancillary documents and source materials, including interactive slavery databases, films, documentaries, photography, and archival documents in the specialized collections at the Amistad Research Center (next door at Tulane University). Among the issues this course will engage and examine are literacy and orality, slavery and freedom, the politics of race and identity, as well as other topics and manifestation in African American literature and culture of the era.
This course examines African American literature, primarily from 1900 well into the 20th century, within its socio-historical, cultural, and literary contexts. Examining various genres of African American literary production—novels, short stories, poetry, drama, and essays—we will analyze selected authors’ constructions and representations of African American identity. Through close readings and critical analyses, we will examine the ways these writers inscribe race (notions of “blackness”), gender (constructions of “manhood” and “womanhood”), social class ("middle class" and the masses), and geography (northern vs. southern), to only name a few, in these texts to constitute a diverse black literary tradition.
As one of the most prominent figures and recognized authors of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Toni Morrison has had a monumental impact on the African American literary tradition and American literature, among other literary canons. This course examines a wide selection of Morrison’s work as novelist, essayist, social critic, press editor, and public intellectual. Reading a broad range of texts—disciplinary and interdisciplinary, fiction and non-fiction, literary and socio-historical/political—by this great figure, we will explore Morrison’s creative and intellectual genius as it manifests in her body of work. To this end, not only will we pay particular attention to themes, language, stylistic techniques, symbolism, and literary conventions, but will also analyze other interlocking dynamics—race, gender, class, and sexuality, among others—to better understand and situate her texts within their larger ideological, cultural, historical, and socio-political contexts. Moreover, to frame critical discussions, we will also draw upon critical scholarship.
Examining texts written during various historical moments throughout the modern, postmodern, and contemporary periods, this course engages discourses and theories on race, identity, and nation. Exploring the interplay of these apparatuses, in this course we will investigate the ways race, as a category and social construct, has manifested itself and been constituted in social, cultural, and literary terms. Drawing upon a wide selection of critical scholarship, we will explore the ways critics theorize about the politics of race, identity, and nation. Reading these notions and theorizations in conjunction with and alongside select African American literary and cultural texts, we will pay particular attention to black writers’ engagements of race, identity, and nation in fictive, literary, and creative non-fiction texts/contexts.
REPRESENTATIONS OF BLACK WOMEN IN LITERATURE
Examining novels by African American women at various junctures throughout the modern and postmodern periods, this course investigates representations of black women and pays particular attention to the ways black womanhood is characterized through intersectional paradigms of race, gender, sexuality, and social class. We will explore how selected authors render black female characters in ways that perpetuate, contest, and/or subvert stereotypical images of black women; expand limited constructions of black womanhood; and challenge or destabilize prevailing definitions of “woman” and “normativity” in American society. To help frame critical discussions of these novels, we will also engage a wide selection of black feminist scholarship.