Cluster in African American Literary and Cultural Studies

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 by Professors Terrance Hayes and Dawn Lundy Martin;
  • 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.


Geoffrey Glover, Senior 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, Associate 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

For more information about Yona Harvey, visit her profile

Dawn Lundy Martin, 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

Shaun Myers, Assistant Professor

Shaun Myers teaches and writes in the areas of African diasporic literature and culture, specializing in aesthetic theory, transit and transnationalism, and black feminist literary histories. Her current book project, Black Anaesthetics: African American Literature Beyond Man, traces posthumanism’s disavowed genealogies in black literature of the post–civil rights era. The book argues that writers such as Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, and Andrea Lee have used techniques of illegible blackness to trouble humanism’s racialized fictions of Man. Offering an aesthetic theory and a cultural history, the book opens up space to think the human anew. 

For more information about Shaun Myers, visit her profile.

William Scott, Associate Professor

William Scott’s research and teaching focus on poetics and linguistics; contemporary African American poetry; African American Literature; gender and sexuality; and opera. 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 “Becoming, for a song”: Language and Difference in the Poetry of Harryette Mullen, Nathaniel Mackey, and Erica Hunt. 

For more information about William Scott, visit his 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.