Ryan James Kernan
Assistant Professor of English


African-American & Diaspora, Drama, Poetry & Poetics, Postcolonial, Theory, Twentieth Century & Contemporary

African American & African Diaspora Literature, Postcolonial Literature, Literature of the Americas, Translation Studies 

My comparativist approach to the literary production of the African Diaspora builds on the work of scholars who have been developing the field of African American Studies and Diasporic Studies within modern academia since the late 1960s. In the broadest sense of the term American, I aspire to contextualize and to treat African American literature with the care, respect, and depth accorded other “national” and “transnational” literatures. In pursuing this objective my principal intellectual foci have led me to a multi-disciplinary approach as African Americanist, comparativist, literary theorist and critic, focusing on Translation Studies, diaspora studies, and Literature of the Americas. My manuscript, Black Translation, employs this multidisciplinary approach to elucidate the key role that translation played in Langston Hughes’s creative processes and in the fomentatiion of black iinternationalism from 1930 to 1967.


I have come to understand my role in the classroom as one that capitalizes on the complementary relationship between the disciplinary drive to elicit complex interpretations from texts that draw from multiple perspectives and the academy’s growing commitment to undergraduate multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary education. I design my courses to stimulate an interactive learning environment in which students become deeply engaged with texts and develop capacities to formulate their own understandings of how works of literature convey meaning within an awareness of disciplinary expectations. I use my lectures as a means to model different critical approaches to textual analysis and draw from a wide variety of resources, ranging from canonical Western texts to artistic production in contemporary cultures the world over, with an eye to foment intellectually challenging discussions with and amongst my students.

Affiliate Faculty Member of the Program in the Program of Comparative Literature

Office / Office Hours

Murray Hall, Room 024, College Ave Campus

Spring 2018

By appointment on Tuesdays from 4:30pm to 6:00 pm


Black Translation: Langston Hughes, Literary Internationalism and the Fomentation of Black Radicalism by Ryan James Kernan (anticipated Fall 2018 release by University of North Carolina Press)


Justice in Time: Critical Afrofuturism and the Struggle for Black Freedom. eds.,Ryan Kernan and Elizabeth Reich (anticipated Winter 2019 release by University of Minnesota Press)

Selected Publications:

2010 “Story and Discourse,” The Encyclopedia of the Novel, edited by Peter Logan, Wiley Blackwell: Oxford (2010)


2010 “Author,” The Encyclopedia of the Novel, edited by Peter Logan, Wiley Blackwell: Oxford (2010)


2011 “How it Feels to be Mulatto Me,” Phati’tude, Vol. 2 No. 4 (Winter 2011): 12, 20-23.


2012 Langston Hughes’s Cuban Contacts: Translation, Complementary Conversation, and Inter-American Dialogue” Langston Hughes Review 24.25 (Fall/ Winter 2010/2011)


2014 “The Coup of Langston Hughes’s Picasso Period: Excavating Mayakovsky in Langston Hughes’s Verse” Comparative Literature, (Winter 2014)


Selected Reviews:

2017 Letters from Langston: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Red Scare and Beyond, eds. Evelyn Louise Crawford and Mary Louise Patterson (Oakland: University of California Press, 2016), 434 pp. ALH Online Review, Series https://academic.oup.com/DocumentLibrary/ALH/Online%20Review%20Series% 2010/Ryan%20 James%20Kernan%20Online%20Review%20X.PDF



Courses Taught


UCLA 2006-2009 Department of Comparative Literature

Undergraduate Courses

“Survey of Literature from the Middle Ages to the 17th Century” “Foundational Fictions of World Citizens: Narrative, Geography, and Identity"

"The Foundational Fictions of World Citizens: Performativity, Sexuality, and the Post-Colonial Subject”

Graduate Courses

“The Harlem Renaissance and the African Diaspora"


Rutgers University Department of English 2009-

Undergraduate Courses

“Black Literature from 1930 to the Present

“African American Literary Theory”

“African American Literature and Its International Influence”

“The History of Black Drama”

“The Harlem Renaissance”

“Introduction to Literary Theory: Great Works of Literary Theory”

“The Lost Generation: Joyce, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald”

"The Literary Afterlife of W.E.B. Du Bois

Graduate Courses

“The Role of Translation in the Fomentation of Post-Colonial Discourse and Literary Black Radicalism"

"African American Literature and the Left"

Awards and Affiliations

2009- Affiliate Faculty Memeber in the Program of Comparative Literature

2011-2012 Faculty Fellow, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

2006-2007University of California President's Dissertation Fellowship

2005-2006 Graduate Research Mentorship,

2004 Graduate Research Mentorship

2001-2003 UCLA Eugene Cota Robles Fellowship

2000-2001 University of California Graduate Opportunity Fellowship

1998 Phi Beta Kappa; Summa Cum Laude, Princeton University

American Studies Association

American Comparative Literature Association Modern Language Association

Modern Language Association


A.B., Princeton University, Phi Beta Kappa; Summa Cum LaudeEnglish Literature and Theater, 1998,

Ph.D., UCLA, Comparative Literature, 2007

Dissertation: Lost and Found in Black Translation: Langston Hughes's Translations of French- and Spanish-Language Poetry, his Hispanic and Francophone Translators, and the Fashioning of Radical Black Subjectivities, July 1, 2007, Efraín Kristal and Richard Yarborough