My research focuses on US cultural history and political thought from the mid-18th century to the present, with specific interests in Black political thought, critical theories of race and racism, American slavery and its afterlives, early American studies, radical social movements, and popular culture.
My first book project is entitled Scripting the Unthinkable: Black Revolt and Political Imagination in the United States, 1770 – 1945. It examines the central role that stories and arguments about Black revolt played in shaping the contours of political and social life during the first two centuries of the United States. Specifically, I analyze how Black revolt narratives often functioned as key framing devices for dominant conceptions of American national identity across this time period, and vice versa. I pay particular attention to the conflictual but defining relationship between radical Black and abolitionist narratives of Black revolt and the dominant narratives that prevailed in centers of US cultural and political power. I analyze how these “revolutionary” & “reactionary” narratives shaped one another, how they responded to and shaped actual instances of Black revolt, and how they changed—and did not change—over time. Ultimately, my book functions as a critical intellectual history, highlighting and analyzing the function of Black rebellion in various competing strains of American intellectual history.
My work has appeared (or will appear) in a variety of venues, including American Quarterly, Tocqueville 21, IEHS Online, Austin Chronicle, Center for Brooklyn History Blog, and E3W Review of Books.