Cluster in African American Literary and Cultural Studies

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Welcome to the Faculty Cluster in African American Literary and Cultural Studies in the English Department at the University of Pittsburgh!

On this page, you will find:

  • Brief descriptions of each faculty member’s interests, areas of expertise, and publications, as well as links to their individual faculty webpages and personal websites, where you can read more detailed information about them;
  • An overview of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) at the University of Pittsburgh, co-founded and co-directed by Professors Terrance Hayes and Dawn Lundy Martin, with a link to the Center’s website;
  • A list of current undergraduate course offerings in the fields of African American Literary and Cultural Studies in the English Department at the University of Pittsburgh, together with brief course descriptions.

Faculty


Geoffrey Glover, Lecturer

Geoffrey Glover’s fields of expertise include the African American novel, twentieth-century American prose, and speculative fiction. Glover’s current project is a literary history of African American science fiction, which examines the way African American authors use the unique collection of genre characteristics in science fiction to imagine new possibilities for self-identity.

For more information about Geoffrey Glover, visit his profile

 

Yona Harvey, Assistant Professor

Yona Harvey is the author of the poetry collection, Hemming the Water, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University. Harvey has composed, read, or collaborated on a variety of hybrid or genre-blurring projects. Most recently, she has been exploring and researching key sites for Blood, Work, her nonfiction book in-progress about her late sister and the stigma of mental health care and services for all people. Her personal website is yonaharvey.com.

For more information about Yona Harvey, visit her profile

 

Terrance Hayes, Professor

Terrance Hayes, codirector of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, is the author of Lighthead (Penguin 2010), winner of the 2010 National Book Award. His other books are Wind In a Box (Penguin 2006), Hip Logic (Penguin 2002), and Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999). His most recent  collection of poems, How To Be Drawn (Penguin 2015), was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award. Read more about Hayes at his personal website terrancehayes.com.

For more information about Terrance Hayes, visit his profile

 

Dawn Lundy Martin, Associate Professor

Dawn Lundy Martin, codirector of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, is the author of A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (2007), DISCIPLINE (2011), and several chapbooks. Her latest collection of poems, Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (2015), won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry. Good Stock, Strange Blood is forthcoming from Coffee House Press in 2017. Lundy Martin received her PhD in literature at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst with a dissertation on experimentalism and subjectivity in contemporary poetry.

For more information about Dawn Lundy Martin, visit her profile

 

Imani Owens, Assistant Professor

Imani D. Owens’s research and teaching interests include African American and Caribbean literature, music, and performance, as well as histories of migration and empire in the global South. Owens is currently at work on book manuscript entitled At the Crossroads: Literature, U.S. Empire, and Black Hemispheric Modernity, which charts discourses of folk culture, literary form, and anti-imperialist politics in Caribbean and African American texts during the interwar period.

For more information about Imani Owens, visit her profile.

 

Lauren Russell, Research Assistant Professor

Lauren Russell is the assistant director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics and the author of What’s Hanging on the Hush (Ahsahta Press, 2017). Russell's chapbook Dream-Clung, Gone was published by Brooklyn Arts Press in 2012, and her work has appeared in Better, boundary 2, The Brooklyn Rail, jubilat, Tarpaulin Sky, and is forthcoming in Bettering American Poetry 2015. Russell holds an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh, and is currently in the middle of a book-length poetic hybrid work tentatively entitled Descent.

For more information about Lauren Russell, visit her profile.

 

William Scott, Associate Professor

William Scott’s research and teaching focus on critical theory (poetics, psychoanalysis, semiotics, linguistics); contemporary African American poetry; opera; gender, sexuality, and trauma. Scott is currently working on a study of various modes of articulation—including the innovative forms of linguistic experimentation that attend these—among the aesthetic projects of a range of contemporary African American poets, entitled Language and Difference in Contemporary African American Poetry.

For more information about William Scott, visit his profile

 

Autumn Womack, Assistant Professor

Autumn Womack specializes in African American literature and culture with an emphasis on visual culture, 19th century literature, and print culture. Womack is currently at work on her first book manuscript Reform Visions: Race, Visuality, and Literature in the Progressive Era, which examines the important formal and technical features of emergent visual technologies such as photography, motion pictures, and social surveys to black literary aesthetics from the 1880s through the 1920s.

For more information about Autumn Womack, visit her profile

 

The Center for African American Poetry and Poetics

In 2016, Professors of English and poets Dawn Lundy Martin and Terrance Hayes co-founded the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) at the University of Pittsburgh. A creative think tank for African American and African diasporic poetry and poetics, CAAPP brings together a diversity of poets, writers, scholars, artists, and community members who are thinking through black poetics as a field that investigates the contemporary moment as it is impacted by historical artistic and social repressions and their respondent social justice movements.

Visit the website for the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.

 

Courses in African American Literary and Cultural Studies in the English Department

ENGLIT 0515 “Contemporary African American Poetry” (LIT, W) This course explores the rich and diverse field of contemporary poetry by African Americans, which has witnessed a marked growth over the last three decades. It examines the range of styles, aesthetic projects, and concerns of contemporary black U.S. poets, including the relation of various forms of experimentation to tradition; vernacular, oral, and musical expression; questions of race, culture, and identity; globalization and diasporic movements; the individual and society. This course fulfills a First in Literature Gen Ed requirement and a Writing-emphasis Gen Ed requirement.

ENGLIT 0621 “Introduction to African-American Literature: Debates and Approaches” This course introduces students to several of the key methodological and theoretical approaches to African American literary studies today. Through a selection of primary and secondary readings, students will acquire a knowledge of a range of conceptual frameworks and critical terms that currently shape the study of African American literature. This course fulfills a First Course in Literature Gen Ed requirement.

ENGLIT 1225 “19th Century African American Literature” This course begins with the late eighteenth-century poetry and prose of authors such as Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano, and ends with Civil War, Reconstruction, or Gilded-Age authors such as William Wells Brown, Frances Harper, Pauline Hopkins, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. Readings include a variety of different genres of writing (slave narratives, poetry, drama, fictive and non-fictive prose), while paying attention to the significant African American intellectual and cultural movements that had a role in shaping these various literary productions.

ENGLIT 1230 “20th Century African American Literature” This course begins by briefly examining some of the major authors from the 1920s who were part of what came to be known as the “New Negro Renaissance” or “Harlem Renaissance,” such as Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, and Zora Neale Hurston. We will then study a range of modernist and naturalist writers of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Richard Wright, Ann Petry, and Gwendolyn Brooks. In the second half of the course we will focus on several post-WWII writers that were associated with the Civil Rights and Black Arts movements, from the 1950s to the 1970s, including figures such as Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Toni Cade Bambara. Finally, we will consider the recent wave of African American writers that emerged with the popularization, in the 1980s, of several new genres of African American literature.

ENGLIT 1227 “Harlem Renaissance” (EX, HS) Throughout the 1920s, Harlem, New York was the epicenter of black artistic, cultural, literary, and intellectual innovation. Exploring this distinctive moment, this course pays particular attention to politics, cultural history, literary movements, visual culture, performance, and music as they relate to key historical events like the Great Migration, World War I, and urbanization. The course traces key themes and questions through a variety of genres, including poetry, the essay, drama, literature, photography, and art by black artists and intellectuals such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Alain Locke, Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, and Jean Toomer.  This course fulfills a Second Course in Lit Gen Ed requirement and a Historical Change Gen Ed requirement.