Justin De Senso

Justin De Senso

Assistant Teaching Professor of English and African American Studies

Penn State Berks

154 Franco Building, Penn State Berks

Office Phone: (610) 396-6378


  1. Ph.D., American Studies, State University of New York at Buffalo (2020)
  2. M.A., English, New Mexico State University (2008)
  3. B.A, English, Penn State Abington (2003)


I came to Berks in 2014 after teaching and lecturing at colleges and universities across the US, including the University of Florida, Drexel University, and El Paso Community College. My teaching and research passions span the humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on first-year composition, theories of race and racism, and post-World War II history and culture. With a focus on Black police labor and activism, my dissertation, "Jim Crow in Blue: Policing While Black in Postwar New York City," writes African American NYPD officers into the civil rights movement. 

In 2016, in collaboration with the Center for Service Learning and Community-Based Research, I began "The Reading Police Oral History Project," a student-authored publication that documents the lives of local City of Reading cops. In 2017, I co-founded the Berks Hip-Hop Collective, a faculty-staff-student initiative that champions hip-hop at Berks through curricula, visual art, and freestyle rhyme. In 2018, I co-created and now teach two integrative studies courses, Critical Race Theory in the Humanities and Social Sciences and Critical Approaches to Hip-Hop. I also co-lead the Social Justice Collaborative at Penn State Berks.