I am an Associate Professor of English at the University of Washington in Seattle. My scholarship is in African American Literary Studies of the twentieth and twenty first centuries. My work closely examines literary texts in order to consider how fictional and nonfictional narratives treat emergent forms of thought and social contradictions during the moment of their production. As my work shows, narratives of the black imagination depict nascent, disavowed, and under-thought of ways of knowing and being that frequently escape familiar understandings of contemporary life. At stake in my research is an account of how and why present-day categories, values, and cultural formations come into being. By providing such an account through examinations of social forms and the historicity of the contemporary, my research contributes to History, Black Studies, and Feminist Studies, in addition to Literary Studies in English.
My approach to the study of contemporary life is informed by an abiding interest in gender and racial temporalities. I consider how gender and modern blackness have been jointly constituted. This enables me to think of gender as an investigatory tool for the study of black life in the U.S. overall. Thinking of gender as an analytic for blackness—which indexes modes of embodiment, being, expressiveness, and social and historical consciousness—draws my attention to questions of time and temporality, because gender reveals the historical conditions of U.S. black racial formation. Methodologically, I concentrate on the historicity of the contemporary moment, on the historically constructed means by which we experience present-day reality as inevitably knowable. Thus, my research focuses on the co-constitutive relationship between blackness and gender, and what this co-constitutive relationship reveals about a history of the present and unthought-of experiences of time.