Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University


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Abena  P. A. Busia

Abena P.A. Busia
Associate Professor of English

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Murray Hall | Room 052


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Graduate Student

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Graduate Student


Michelle Ann Stephens
Chair & Associate Professor of English

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Murray Hall | Room 008

Current Graduate Students


Luc Barton
B.A., English/Media Study, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Research Interests: 19th Century American Literature; Postcolonial Literature

Margarita Castroman
M.A., Columbia University; B.A., English, Florida State University. Research Interests: Twentieth-century American literature; African-American and Latino/a literature; archive theory

Gabrielle Everett
B.A., English, University of California-Berkeley. Research Interests: Late 19th- early 20th Century African American Literature

Regina Hamilton
M.A., English, Georgetown University; B.A., English, Duke University. Exam Areas: 20th Century African American Women's Literature, The African American Literary Tradition, Postcolonial Theory and Literature, Caribbean Literature

Ariel Martino
B.A., English and Environmental Studies, Swarthmore College.  Research Interests:  Twentieth Century American and Caribbean Literatures

Alex Mazzaferro
B.A., English, Western New England University.  Research Interests: the early American political imagination, particularly as it is intersected by religious, historiographic, and scientific discourses and issues of race; alternative fringe communities, including populations of slave runaways, displaced Native Americans, exiles, outlaws, Atlantic pirates, and frontier settlers. Dissertation: "Political and Literary Innovation in the Seventeenth-Century Colonial English Atlantic"

Tasia Milton
B.A., English, University of Texas at Arlington. Exam Areas: The African American Literary Tradition; Sensory Perception and Narrative Theory; Colonization, Creolization, and Miscegenation: the Settling of the Americas. Research Interests: narrative theory as it is related to nation-building and diasporic belonging; the depiction of trauma and its impact on narrative form. Dissertation: "(Re)placing the South: Northern Slavery and Early American History in Black Women's Writing"

Amadi Ozier
B.A., English, University of West Georgia.  Research Interests:  Late 19th century and early 20th century African American literature; disability studies; humor theory

Current Faculty


Abena P. A. Busia – D.Phil., Oxford University. Selected Publications: Co-editor of 4-volume Women Writing Africa publishing project (Feminist Press), Theorizing Black Feminisms (Routledge) and of Beyond Survival: African Literature & the Search for New Life (Africa World Press); author of two volumes of poetry, Testimonies of Exile (Africa World Press), and Traces of a Life (Ayebia Clarke). Current Research: book project “Circumstantial Embodiments: Essays on Subject Positioning, Gendered Encounters and Diaspora Literacies.”

Erica Edwards – Ph.D., Duke University. Selected Publications: Keywords for African American Studies (NYU Press), Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership (University of Minnesota Press), "The New Black Novel and The Long War on Terror.” American Literary History, “Sex after the Black Normal” Differences“, Baldwin and Black Leadership” Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin 


Brad Evans – Ph.D., University of Chicago. Selected Publications: Before Cultures: The Ethnographic Imagination in American Literature, 1865-1920 (University of Chicago Press); essays in American Quarterly, Central Sites, Peripheral Visions: Cultural and Institutional Crossings in the History of Anthropology (University of Wisconsin Press). Current Research: book entitled, “Black Cats, Butterflies, and the Frisson of Literary Inconsequence: Recovering the Modernity of America's Fin de Siecle”; co-editing volume of essays, Return to the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward S. Curtis, the Kwakwaka'waka, and Cinematic Documents of Encounter.

Martin Gliserman – Ph. D. Indiana University. Selected publications: Psychoanalysis, Language, and the Body of Text (U Press of Florida), "The Editor’s Farewell" American Imago, "Contact Function: A Theoretical and Historical Framework," Modern Psychoanalysis, "Robinson Crusoe: The Vicissitudes of Greed--Cannibalism to Capitalism," American Imago


Chris Iannini – Ph.D., CUNY. Selected Publications: Fatal Revolutions: Natural History, West Indian Slavery, and the Routes of American Literature (UNC); articles in William & Mary Quarterly, Mississippi Quarterly. Current Research: a new book, "The Problem of Literature in the Colonial Caribbean," which argues that writings from the region place extraordinary pressure on the modern concept of literature as it first coalesces and thus pose key challenges to critical method today.


Douglas A. Jones, Jr. – Ph.D., Stanford University. Forthcoming Publications: The Captive Stage: Black Exception, Performance, and the Proslavery Imagination of the Antebellum North (Michigan); co-editor, with Harry Elam, Post-Black Drama: A Metheun Anthology (Metheun/Bloomsbury); “An Ambivalent Beginning: Slavery, Performance, and the Design of African American Theatre,” opening essay in The Cambridge Companion to African American Theatre. Current Research: nineteenth-century periodical literature; a book-length study of Frederick Douglass and the emergence of the American public intellectual. Douglas will be joining our staff in the Fall of 2013.


Bode Ibironke – Ph.D., Michigan State University. Recent Publications: articles in Social Identities, Journal of Intercultural Communication, Journal of Commonwealth Literature; chapters in Tropes for the Past: Hayden White and the History/Literature Debate and The Creative Circle: Artist, Critic, and Translator in African Literature. Current Research: his book project, “The Empire of Books,” and his work more broadly, entail a study of the nature of African cultural production and literary history.


Ryan Kernan – Ph.D., UCLA. Recent Publications: articles in Law and History Review (LHR), phati’tude. Current Research: a book entitled "Black Translation: an Internationalist Portrait of Langston Hughes," which reexamines Langston Hughes' "radical" poetic production through the lens of translation to lay bare how this poetry voiced and enacted a black radical internationalism in multiple geographies and in multiply inflected ways.

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Carter Mathes – Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley. Publications: Imagine the Sound: Experimental African American Literature after Civil Rights (University of Minnesota Press); articles in Contemporary Literature, Small Axe, African American Review.


Stéphane Robolin – Ph.D., Duke University. Recent Publications: articles in Research in African Literatures, Safundi, Modern Fiction Studies, and Literature Compass; chapter in Global Circuits of Blackness: Interrogating the African Diaspora. Current Research: a book-length study of spatial representations and black transnationalism in South African and African American literatures entitled “Grounds of Engagement.”


Evie Shockley – Ph.D., Duke University. Recent/Forthcoming Publications: Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (Iowa); the new black (Wesleyan); articles in Callaloo, Contemporary Literature, and Contemporary African American Literature: The Living Canon (Indiana). Current Research: analyzing the significance of poetic form for black subjectivity in contemporary narratives of slavery, in light of the recent explosion of narratives in poetry.


Michelle Stephens – Ph.D., Yale University. Selected Publications: Black Empire: The Masculine Global Imaginary of Caribbean Intellectuals in the United States, 1914 to 1962 (Duke); Radical History Review, co-editor of special issue on “Reconceptualizations of the African Diaspora”; articles in Small Axe, Cultural Studies, Feminist Review. Current Research: a book entitled, “Skin Acts: Race, Psychoanalysis and Black Male Performance,” which uses psychoanalysis to study four twentieth century black male performers; a second project, "Women in Worlds of Color," explores writings by and about women in New World societies.

Maurice Wallace – Ph.D., Duke University. Selected Publications: Constructing the Black Masculine (Duke University Press), Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity (Duke University Press), “The Dream Keepers: William Bullard and New Negro Portraiture in Worcester Massachusetts, 1897-1917” introduction to Rediscovering an American Community of Color: The Photographs of William Bullard



Our research interests encompass such diverse areas as diaspora and transnational studies, black internationalism, translation studies, performance studies, black aesthetics, race and psychoanalysis, modernism, black Marxism, subaltern studies, critical feminist discourses, cultural studies, critical race theory, postcolonial studies, history of the book, literary history, world literature, queer theory, and gender and sexuality studies. Our faculty are also affiliated with inter-disciplinary centers at Rutgers, including Critical Caribbean Studies, the Center for African Studies, the Center for Cultural Analysis, the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, the Center for Race and Ethnicity, the departments of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures, Women’s Studies, Africana Studies, Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies and Comparative Literature.

The range of our faculty and program is evident in recent graduate course offerings over the last three years,
which have included:

Spring 2014

  • Emerson and Douglass: Indivdualism, Literature, and the Possible | Jones, D.
  • The Spaces of (Post) Colonial African Literature | Robolin, S.

Fall 2014

  • Caribbean Aesthetics | Carter, M.
  • The Long Poem in Literature of the African Diaspora | Shockley, E.

Spring 2015

  • Minor to Minor:  Thinking Comparatively in Multiethnic Literature | Isaac, A.

Fall 2015

Spring 2016

Fall 2016


Selected Placements and Alumni Accomplishments

Carol Allen, author of Peculiar Passages: Black Women Playwrights 1975-2000 and Black Women intellectuals: Strategies of Nation, Family, and Neighborhood in the Works of Pauline Hopkins, Jessie Fauset, and Marita Bonner is Professor of English at Long Island University - Brooklyn.

Sonali Barua is a teaching consultant at Singapore Management University Centre for English Communication.

Katherine Clay Bassard, author of Spiritual Interrogations: Culture, Gender, and Community in Early African American Women’s Writing (1999) and Transforming Scriptures: African American Women Writers and the Bible (2010), is Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Maria Rice Bellamy is Assistant Professor at the College of Staten Island. Her article “More than Hunter or Prey: Duality and Traumatic Memory in Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker” is forthcoming in MELUS.

Giti Chandra, author of Narrating Violence, Constructing Collective Identities, is Associate Professor of English Literature at St. Stephens College, Delhi University, India.

Soyica Diggs Colbert is Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth. She is the author of The African American Theatrical Body: Reception, Performance, and the Stage (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Eileen DeFreece is Associate Professor of Humanities at Essex County College.

Nancy Gerber is author of Portrait of the Mother-Artist: Class and Creativity in Contemporary American Fiction (2003) and Losing a Life: A Daughter’s Memoir of Caregiving (2007).

Octavio ("Tavi") R. Gonzalez, Assistant Professor at Wellesley College.

Shakti Jaising, Assistant Professor of English at Drew University.

Kelly Baker Josephs is an Assistant Professor at York College and also the Managing Editor of Small Axe and Editor for sx salon.

Verner Mitchell, co-author of Literary Sisters: Dorothy West and Her Circle: A Biography of the Harlem Renaissance (2011), editor of This Waiting for Love: Helene Johnson, Poet of the Harlem Renaissance (2006), co-editor of Where the Wild Grape Grows: Selected Writings, 1930-1960 (2004), and Western Echoes of the Harlem Renaissance: The Life and Writings of Anita Scott Coleman (2008), is Professor of English at the University of Memphis.

Rika Nakamura, Associate Professor at Seijo University in Tokyo, Japan.

Tzarina Prater, Assistant Professor at Bentley University. Tzarina Prater's article, "Where the Rooster Legs an Egg: Transgendered Heroism in Patricia Powell's The Pagoda" is forthcoming in Small Axe.

Channette Romero is an Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia. Her book Religion and Resistance in American Fiction by Women of Color is forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press.

Michael Rubenstein is an Assistant Professor at the University of California Berkeley. He is the author of Public Works: Infrastructure, Irish Modernism, and the Postcolonial (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010).

Heather Russell, author of Legba’s Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic, is Associate Professor of English and Graduate Director, African & African Diaspora Studies at Florida International University.

Angela Shaw-Thornburg is an Assistant Professor at South Carolina State University. She was selected as the University’s 2009-2010 Professor of the Year.

Ritashona Simpson is author of Black Looks and Black Acts: The Language of Toni Morrison in The Bluest Eye and Beloved (2007).

Anantha Sudhakar is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Samela Moodie Vasquez, author of Humor in the Caribbean Literary Canon (forthcoming 2012), is Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth College.

Alexander Weheliye is currently Associate Professor of English African American Studies at Northwestern. His book Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity (Duke University Press, 2005) was awarded the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Study of Black American Literature or Culture.

Piper Kendrix Williams, Assistant Professor at The College of New Jersey, is co-editor of Representing Segregation: Toward an Aesthetics of Jim Crow (2010).

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