Assistant Professor, English and Africana Studies
In addition to teaching a variety of topics in the classroom, I am committed to working with students in expansive ways that extend beyond my courses, particularly in areas related to social justice. To that end, I am currently serving as the Director of the Africana Studies Program; the faculty advisor to the Black Students Association; and the Inaugural Fellow in Muhlenberg’s new Faculty Fellowship Program in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Additionally, I am the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the new Graduate School Preparatory Program for Students from Underrepresented Backgrounds, alongside Giancarlo Cuadra, assistant professor of biology. Please visit the Graduate School Preparatory Program website for more information.
Alongside my joint appointment in the Department of English Literatures and Writing and the Africana Studies Program, I am affiliated with the Jewish Studies Program and the Women's and Gender Studies Program. I teach interdisciplinary courses that examine the intersections of race, genocide, and human rights violations through the study of twentieth-century and contemporary literature(s). In courses such as Genocide and Blackness, Holocaust Literature, Global Black Literature, and Literature of Genocide, I guide students toward expanded understandings of concepts we think we know, including genocide, Blackness, and literature. I use these innovative definitions to help students understand how marginalized populations have used literature to combat violence and turn their stories into art and to highlight how literature emphasizes our global humanity by reminding us that we are citizens of one world who are connected to not only the people waiting for us at home, but also to those we will never meet – except within the pages of our books.
Amid the currents of violence swirling around us today, I lead students to literature to illustrate how renowned authors have struggled with the same questions that haunt them, such as “Where do I fit into freedom fighting movements? What can I do to fix our world?” Using these questions as guideposts on a hopeful path to transformation, I create spaces in which students can find answers in the imaginative, creative possibilities of literature; in our class discussions; and, ultimately, in themselves.
In Spring 2020, I created the first Africana Studies Book Club at Muhlenberg College. To honor Africana Studies' rich tradition of celebrating work by African-descended populations across the world, the Book Club focuses on global Black literature. The group is open to all members of the Muhlenberg community. If you are interested in joining, please send me an email. We would love to have you join the Africana Studies Book Club family!
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
I study twentieth-century and contemporary African American and American Literatures; Global Black Literature; Holocaust Literature; Genocide Literature; Human Rights Literature; and Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies to produce work that intertwines scholarship and activism and highlights how literature can combat genocide, its precursors, and its reverberations.
My book manuscript is a transnational literary history of how the concept of genocide has been used in relation to Black communities in Post-Holocaust Era writing. Additionally, my recently published article, “Fatal Categorizations,” examines “passing” in twentieth-century African American literature (Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing) alongside twenty-first century writing about Japanese American internment (Jamie Ford’s 2009 novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet). In January of 2021, “Fatal Categorizations” was awarded the South Atlantic Review Essay Prize. I also contributed a chapter, “(Re-)Framing Black Women’s Liberation,” to a forthcoming volume, Editing the Harlem Renaissance. In the chapter, I examine how contemporary editorial frameworks impact our understanding of the literature of twentieth-century Black women authors, including Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston.
In addition to my book, my current projects include an article about memoir, (anti-)Blackness, and Nazi Germany and an article examining how the Black Press wrote about the concept of genocide in relation to anti-Black violence in the Post-World War II Era through the end of the twentieth century. I am dedicated to using my work to emphasize the crucial role of interdisciplinary literary study in the project of dismantling our violent world and building a new, just one to stand in its stead.