Timeka N. Tounsel is an Assistant Professor in African American Studies and Media Studies and a Spring 2021 Humanities Institute Faculty Scholar in Residence. Tounsel's fields of inquiry include Black (digital) popular culture, audience studies, womanism, and feminist media studies. Specifically, her research considers the stories that mass media tell about Black women, how Black women imagine themselves, and the consequences of these narratives. She has published articles on Black women’s cultural production in Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Culture, Politics and Society and the Journal of Media and Religion. Her work can also be found in Interpreting Tyler Perry: Perspectives on Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality and Gladiators in Suits: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Representation in Scandal.
Professor Tounsel's first book, Branding Black Womanhood: Media Citizenship from Black Power to Black Girl Magic (under contract with Rutgers University Press), explores how corporate brands and media companies have appropriated Black women's empowerment as a commercial project. Beginning in 1968 and ending in 2020, the book reveals the conditions under which periods of intense corporate attention recur and the impact they have on Black women’s status as consumers and citizens.
Professor Tounsel earned a PhD in Communication Studies and a certificate in African American and Diaspora Studies from the University of Michigan, where she was also a Rackham Merit Fellow. Prior to that, she worked in the magazine industry and has written for Essence and BLAC magazines. She has also served in various administrative roles in higher education, including in diversity, equity, and inclusion; enrollment management; and faculty development.