Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies
Ph.D., 2001, Yale University
Jayna Brown’s research includes black performance and literature in the US and elsewhere in the Diaspora, with a focus on black vernacular expressive forms and speculative fiction. Her award-winning first book, Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern, was published by Duke University Press in 2008. She is now working on a new book, titled Black Utopias: Speculative Life and the Music of Other Worlds, in which she traces black radical utopian practice and vision, including the psychic travels of Sojourner Truth, biological speculation in Octavia Butler’s fiction and Sun Ra’s astral philosophy. Considering the possibility of utopia beyond the liberal humanist subject, as a process of melting into a wider flow of cosmic matter, she looks toward the possibility of worlds in which the human is enmeshed in wider ecologies. Her recent publications include articles on post punk in Britain published in Social Text and JPMS, and an engagement with new materialism in GLQ. Her classes include Black Feminisms, Race and Performance, and Black Science Fiction.
“Black Patriarch on the Prairie: Black Masculinity and National Identity in the Early Works of Oscar Micheaux,” in Oscar Micheaux and His Circle: Early Race Films and Filmmakers, ed. Jane Gaines et. all (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001).
“From the Point of View of the Pavement: A Geopolitics of Black Dance,” Big Ears: Listening to Gender in Jazz Studies, ed. Sherrie Tucker, Nicole Rustin (Duke University Press, October 2008).
“Global Pop and Utopian Impulse,” Social TextSpecial issue: The Politics of Recording, ed. Gustavus Stadler, forthcoming, Spring, 2010.