American Literature (C19 and C20), Science Fiction, STS, Black Studies, Performance Studies
I am interested in the intersection of race, science, and technology in American literature and culture. At the moment, I am focused on the development of genre science fiction in the US, the emergence of something I’ve taken to calling “fugitive science fiction” (though its better known at this point as Afrofuturism), and the racial politics of posthumanism. Major theorists for my work include Sylvia Wynter, N. Katherine Hayles, Saidiya Hartman, John Rieder, Sherryl Vint, and Fred Moten. I also work to nurture an interest genre and narrative theories, digital humanities, fantasy literature, and American Studies. I am affiliated with the SFCS program at UCR, and have earned a designated emphasis in Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies. My work has been supported by a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship, a Dissertation Year Fellowship, and a Sawyer Fellowship for the 2015–16 Sawyer Seminar on ‘Alternative Futurisms.’
Dissertation: The Race of Machines, or, A Prehistory of the Posthuman
Committee: Sherryl Vint (Chair), Fred Moten, Erica Edwards, Jayna Brown (Ethnic Studies)
This dissertation examines the way that American technoculture theorizes race, looking to archival, popular, and canonical sources to argue that race and technology were parallel developments in the US. In this project, I unpack the racial prehistory of the posthuman, challenging the post-racial discourses of contemporary technocracy by explicating their entanglement with the American racial projects of white supremacy. My dissertation works to recover the occluded, repressed, and otherwise forgotten truth that American technoculture arose in a society in which some people were once legally, formally, things, and that these legal forms are nothing other than race. It seeks to re-entangle the discourses of machine culture with of what Saidiya Hartman calls the “afterlife of slavery” to argue that machine culture and racial thinking are inextricably connected in American culture. To that end, I read broadly across post-emancipation American literature, examining canonical novels, major works of African-American writing, and the paraliterature of genre science fiction. I argue for understanding works like Pauline Hopkin’s Of One Blood (1903), George Schuyler’s Black No More (1931), Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man(1952) and Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo (1972) as works of technocultural critique, in implicit (and occasionally explicit) conversation with genre science fiction. At the same time, I argue that the development of genre science fiction was always already a racial project, from its earliest iterations in 19th century dime novels to its mature manifestation under the editorial purview of John W. Campbell. I argue that the racial politics of genre science fiction are actuated by anxieties about black bodies and desires of what Sylvia Wynter calls white mastership. Together, these arguments set the terms for a more rigorous understanding of the racial discourses haunting the postmodern deconstruction of the liberal human subject, offering a framework for understanding our contemporary moment’s political investment in digital cultures.
2016 “The Technology of Race: White Supremacy and Scientifiction.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 27.1 (2016): 47-67.
2018 “Fugitive Science Fiction.” Afrofuturism In Time and Space (forthcoming)
2017 “Retconning Race: Post-Racial Blackness in the Star Wars Franchise” Star Wars and the History of Transmedia Storytelling(forthcoming)
2017 “Of Race and Robots.” Critical Insights: Isaac Asimov (forthcoming)
2015 “Racing the Future.” Review Essay of Singularities by Joshua Raulerson. Science Fiction Film and Television 8.3 (2015): 387–96.
2017 Review of The Sound of Culture by Louis Chude-Sokei, New York Review of Science Fiction (forthcoming)
2017 Review of The Things That Fly in the Night by Giselle Liza Anatol, and The Transatlantic Zombie by Sarah Juliet Lauro, American Literature (forthcoming)
2017 Review of Speculative Blackness by Andre M. Carrington, Extrapolations (forthcoming)
2017 Review of The Racial Horizon of Utopia by Edward Chan, Science Fiction Studies (forthcoming)
2016 Review of Black and Brown Planets, ed. Isiah Lavender III, Science Fiction Film and Television 9.2 (2016): 259-63.
2013 “Seeing to Ballard.” Review of J.G. Ballard: Visions and Revisions, eds. Jeanette Baxter and Rowland Wymes. Science Fiction Studies 40.3 (November 2013): 549-51.
Awards & Honors:
Conference Activity –
2016 Dissertation Year Fellowship, Graduate Division, UC Riverside, CA
2016 Dean Cullenberg Award for Best Essay in Science Fiction or Technoculture, UC Riverside, CA (1st place)
2015 Sawyer Fellowship, Sawyer Seminar, UC Riverside, CA (full-year funding)
2015 First Place Graduate Essay Prize, International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, Orlando, FL.
2012 Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship, University of California, Riverside, CA
Conference Activity –
2015 Co-organizer “Revising the Past, Remaking the Future.” Conference in conjunction with Sawyer Grant “Alternative Futurisms.” Held Oct. 16-17, 2015. Riverside, CA.
2014 Organizer: “Irreverent Reading.” (dis)junctions, 20th Annual UC Riverside English Graduate Student Conference. Held April 11-12, 2014. Riverside, CA.
2016 “Delany’s Other Bodies: Alternative Posthumanism in Samuel R. Delany’s Science Fiction.” Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Conference. Atlanta, GA.
2016 “Post-Hu(e)man: Golden Age SF and the Post-Racial.” Sawyer Seminar Conference: Narrating the Future. Riverside, CA.
2015 “Genetics and Race.” Roundtable presentation. Sawyer Seminar Conference: Revising the Past, Remaking the Future. Riverside, CA.
2015 “The Vaudeville Connection: Race in Early Juvenile SF.” Sawyer Seminar Conference: Revising the Past, Remaking the Future. Riverside, CA.
2015 “’The Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free,’ or, the Technology of Race.” International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts. Orlando, FL.
2014 “Automated Alice: Math and Literacy in the Absurd Works of Lewis Carroll.” (dis)junctions. Riverside, CA.
2014 “The Race of Machines: Blackness, Labor, and the Edisonade.” International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts. Orlando, FL.
2013 “Science as Third Sex in Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood.” (dis)junctions, Riverside, CA, April 2013.
2013 “Posthuman Anxieties in Christopher Nolan’s Inception.” Eaton Science Fiction Conference. Riverside, CA.
2013 “Queer Community Construction: Camp and Comedy in Mystery Science Theater 3000.” International Conference of the Fantastic in the Arts. Orlando, FL.
2012 “Infinite Horror in Thomas Hardy and H.P. Lovecraft.” Re-conceptualizing Cartography. Tampa, FL.
2012 “Nature in a Posthuman World: The Case of Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.” American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference. Providence, RI.