Book Projects

Virginia Christian (15 August 1895 – 16 August 1912) was executed in Virginia for allegedly murdering her employer.

Apprehending Black Womanhood: Gender, Literature, and the Carceral State

According to the Department of Justice, African-American women are currently the fastest growing prison population in the country.  However, to date, there has been no book that examines the ways prisons have shaped black women’s literature. Apprehending Black Womanhood fills this significant lacuna in the fields of black feminist criticism and law and literature by tracing law’s use as a modality of containment and regulation.  Because aggression is simultaneously attributed to and directed toward black women, penal regimes become a way of apprehending (in both the sense of capturing and understanding) black women.  My book also considers how African-American women use literature to explore the relationships between law and citizenship, particularly in an era characterized by respectability politics and racial uplift.  Writers like Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Harriet Jacobs, Ann Petry, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison articulate textual modes of knowing and being that critique the criminalization of black womanhood.

Because black feminism evolves alongside the American penal system, my study uses methodologies forged in critical race black feminism and black feminist literary theory.  In so doing, this book situates these intellectual projects as analytics by which we can apprehend the relationship between black womanhood, state power, and punishment.


Brute Negresses: Crime, Prisons and Black Queer Womanhood

This project takes up the figure of the prison as an important link between blackness and queerness in the popular imaginary.