Research & Teaching

Book Projects

My current book project, Irreconcilable Differences?: Memory, History, and the Echoes of Diaspora, focuses on autobiographical narratives by Afro-European and African American writers and performers to consider how their works address the personal, cultural, and political in discourses on race, gender, and (trans)national belonging. This study examines the ways in which Black artists, in engaging sites of shared memory (both real and imagined), construct diasporic spaces outside of the nation paradigm. These new spaces, developed through strategic engagements with Black cultural forms, vernacular practices, music, and the construction of digital communities, I contend, resonate throughout the works by Black German, Black British, and African American artists, showing how these writers and performers articulate experiences and notions of subjectivity that complicate a narrow understanding of the Black diaspora. I was the recipient of a Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellowship for Junior Faculty (2016-2017), which allowed me to complete significant work on this manuscript.

 

Rage and the Black Maternal considers the ways in which writers such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Suzan-Lori Parks deploy rage as a site of power negotiation for Black mothers. I place their works  in conversation with contemporary evocations of rage and the refusal of reconciliation to examine how Black mothers eschew narratives of reconciliation to confront community and state apparatuses that police and suppress practices of refusal and “deviant affect.”

Note: “Rage and the Black Maternal” is my second book project, derived from an early dissertation I began at the University of Virginia (2008-2009). In addition to my dissertation presentation, which outlined the chapters of the project, I previously presented a portion of one chapter of this work (“Burn’em out by the roots”: Rage, Reproduction, and Revolution in Alice Walker’s Meridian” at the UVA English Department Graduate Conference in 2009. A second chapter, derived from a conference presentation, “Twice Written, Twice Fallen: Sex, Law, and Citizenship in Suzan-Lori Parks’s Red Letter Plays,” was presented at the Mellon Mays Graduate Conference, in New York in 2007. I paused this project to complete work on my current project, “Irreconcilable Differences? Memory, History, and the Echoes of Diaspora,” as well as a Digital Humanities Project, “Singing the Nation Into Being: Anthems and the Politics of Performance.” 

 

Digital Humanities

“Singing the Nation Into Being: Anthems and the Politics of Performance” is a digital humanities project that features a collection of performances of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” With this website, I consider the ways in which Black subjectivity, nation, and diaspora are constituted and contested vis-à-vis singing of “The Black National Anthem.” I use videos found primarily on YouTube, because of the availability of videos and metadata to consider how such data affect our understanding of these performances and I provide an opportunity for the public to upload their own videos to the site.

 

Courses Taught

New Jersey City University, Department of English

Survey of African American Literature

African American Women Writers

African and Caribbean Women Writers

Modern and Contemporary American Literature

*Modern and Contemporary African Literature

*Reading Hip Hop

Multiethnic U.S. Literature

Literature and Film

English Composition II

 

Hampshire College, School of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies

*Coming to America: Migration and the African Diaspora

*Race, Gender & Sexuality in Black Speculative Fiction

*Growing Up Black: Coming-of-Age-Narratives of the African Diaspora

*Re/De-Constructing Black Women (African, Caribbean, and African American feminisms)

 

University of Virginia, Department of English

*Black Migrations (introductory seminar for majors)

*Tech & Sensibility (self-designed, themed expository writing)

*Technology and Identities (self-designed, themed expository writing)

History of Literatures in English II (survey for majors, 1660-1880)

History of Literatures in English III (survey for majors, 19th and 20th century)

Communicating With the Public (academic and professional writing)

 

University of Virginia, The Carter G. Woodson Institute

for African American and African Studies

*Black Women and Power

*Indicates new courses I developed

Donaldson.CV.WS

 

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