Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts



Congratulations to Timeka Tounsel on the publication of Transfiguring Theaters for Disrespectable Leisure: An Ethnography on Black Womxn’s Ratchet Performances in Movie Showings of Girls Trip in Oxford Academic’s Journal of Communication.

This ethnographic study considers how Black womxn audiences collectively negotiated the politics of respectability in the movie theater, anecdotally referred to as cinema etiquette, in showings of the film Girls Trip. Findings revealed that Black womxn audiences (from various age groups) embodied an intersectional resistance discourse of disrespectability through their (non)verbal behaviors and an ecology of the senses (i.e., sight and sound) that were situated at the intersection of ratchetness, playfulness, and informality.

Please join us in congratulating Keith Gilyard on the publication of his recent poetry collection, Impressions: New and Select Poems (Third World Press, 2021)!

The heart of this ambitious and energetic collection is the conscientious and trusted mind of a giving and loving Black artist who in his own way understands history, psychology, economics, politics, and, most of all, the unique power of language in his application of “chord inversions” in the use of serving the urgent needs of Black lives. As a poet and empirical scientist who dances with words, ideas, real life, practical clarifications, and humor, Gilyard challenges his readers to act.

Please join us in congratulating Joshua Inwood, Professor of Geography and African American Studies and Senior Research Associate in the Rock Ethics Institute, who has published an essay (with Anne Bonds of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee) in the journal Society + Space, “Relations of Power: The U.S. Capitol Insurrection, White Supremacy and US Democracy.”

To locate white supremacy within the realm of militias, mobs, and Trumpism not only misunderstands white supremacy as a structuring relation, but also reinforces it by reducing it to the extraordinary and spectacular, and within the worldview of extremists. This essay maintains that white supremacy must be understood as a political economic and racial project that spans ideologies and political commitments within the operations of the liberal, settler state.

The American Antiquarian Society is very pleased to announce that P. Gabrielle Foreman, the Paterno Family Professor of American Literature and professor of African American studies and history at The Pennsylvania State University, will be joining the AAS community for twelve months as the Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence beginning in January 2022. She’s also the Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities at Syracuse University for calendar year 2021.

An award-winning teacher, scholar, mentor, and creator of community partnerships, Dr. Foreman has published extensively on issues of race, reform, and resistance in the nineteenth century with a focus on the continuing hold of the past on issues we face today. She is the author or editor of four books, including Activist Sentiments: Reading Black Women in the Nineteenth Century, and, most recently, The Colored Conventions Movement: Black Organizing in the Nineteenth Century.   

Gabrielle Foreman is known for her collaborative and interdisciplinary scholarship and institution building. At University of Delaware, she was the founding faculty director of the Colored Conventions Project, a digital archive and research collective that is now a flagship project of the Center for Black Digital Research/#DigBlk at Penn State University. The CCP has been featured in the New York Times and awarded prizes by the American Studies Association, the Modern Language Association, and the American Culture/Popular Culture Association. It was chosen as an NEH Essential: Great Projects Past and Present.

During her year at AAS, Professor Foreman will work on a project titled “Founding Families of the Convention Movement: The Long History of Black Organizing for Civil Rights.” The AAS community is delighted to welcome P. Gabrielle Foreman to Worcester and looks forward to her participation in and mentorship of the community of scholars at AAS.

Zachary Morgan, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, recently published a peer-reviewed article on his current research for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History titled “The Revolta da Chibata: Conscription, Corporal Punishment, and State Control of Free Afro-Brazilians” and one in the Journal of Black Studies “Soldier and Scholar: Abdias Nascimento and the Origins of Afro-Latin American Studies”.

He also appeared on the podcast Dialogues in Afrolatinidad S1-Episode 7 – Zachary R. Morgan: “Exploring Race, Freedom, and Citizenship in Brazil”.

Congratulations to Zach on all the great work so far this year!


Please join us in congratulating Ray Block, Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, who has been named the Laurence and Lynne Brown-McCourtney Endowed Career Development Professor in the McCourtney Institute!

The Brown-McCourtney Professorship was created to support faculty whose teaching and research preserves and advances democracy in the U.S. and abroad. The selection of Ray Block to this position is another in a distinguished line of appointments that includes Professors Abe Khan and Candis Smith. Since joining the Liberal Arts faculty in 2019, Dr. Block has proven to be an ambitious and highly productive scholar, and his research into areas including racial, ethnic and gender differences in civic involvement, social identity, political arenas and related topics makes this appointment both timely and compelling.

Check out the article here:

African American Literature in Transition, 1900–1910 (Cambridge University Press, 2021) offers a wide ranging, multi-disciplinary approach to early twentieth century African American literature and culture. It showcases the literary and cultural productions that took shape in the critical years after Reconstruction, but before the Harlem Renaissance, the period known as the nadir of African American history. It undercovers the dynamic work being done by Black authors, painters, photographers, poets, editors, boxers, and entertainers to shape ‘New Negro’ identities and to chart a new path for a new century. The book is structured into four key areas: Black publishing and print culture; innovations in genre and form; the race, class and gender politics of literary and cultural production; and new geographies of Black literary history. These overarching themes, along with the introduction of established figures and movement, alongside lesser known texts and original research, offer a radical re-conceptualization of this critical, but understudied period in African American literary history.

The Rock Ethics Institute is proud to announce the winners of the 2021 Stand Up Awards, including Nyla Holland, a senior in African American Studies and political science.

As president of the Penn State Student Black Caucus when nationwide protests erupted in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black lives, Holland found herself thrust into the role of one of the leaders in efforts to address racial injustices on campus and in the surrounding community. She rose to the challenge, partnering with organizations like the 3/20 Coalition to reimagine public safety locally in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Osaze Osagie, a young Black man with mental illness. She also served as co-chair of the Student Code of Conduct task force, which outlined recommendations to improve how Penn State responds to and holds students accountable for hate speech.

Her efforts to advance racial justice have made Holland the target of attacks, including vile and racist language against her and other Black Caucus members during a Zoom bombing incident earlier this year. Her resolve in the face of such adversity has deeply impressed Candis Smith, associate professor of political science and African American studies: “Nyla has worked tirelessly to promote the well-being and safety of marginalized students at Penn State. She has taken on the burden of fighting racism and white supremacy, which continue to manifest themselves in our university town. It is a burden she should never have had to bear, but she has done so with grace, courage and resilience.”

Read the article here: Rock Ethics Institute honors Penn State undergraduates with Stand Up Awards – Rock Ethics Institute

Amira Rose Davis, assistant professor of history and African American studies, has been named a  2021 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leader by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation’s Institute for Citizens and Scholars. The Mellon awards “support junior faculty whose research focuses on contemporary American history, politics, culture, and society, and who are committed to the creation of an inclusive campus community for underrepresented students and scholars.” Dr. Davis also was named a 2021–2022 Harrington Faculty Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. The residential fellowship will allow her to focus on research and collaborations with colleagues in Texas’s Department of African and African Diaspora Studies and across the university.

Davis Named Mellon Faculty Leader

Dara Walker, assistant professor of African American studies; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; and history in the College of the Liberal Arts, has been named a postdoctoral fellow for 2021 by the National Academy of Education (NAEd), an honorary educational society whose mission is to improve education policy and practice by advancing high-quality research. Walker is one of 25 scholars selected from a competitive pool of 249 applicants.

Funded by a grant from the Spencer Foundation, the fellowship program supports early career scholars working in critical areas of education research. During the nonresidential fellowship, Walker will work on her upcoming monograph, “High School Rebels: Black Power, Education, and Youth Politics in the Motor City, 1966-1973.”

Read the article here: