2020 Du Bois Center Fellows

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Felix Jean-Louis

Rebecka Rutledge Fisher

The Thinker as Poet: The Poetries and Poetics of W. E. B. Du Bois (in progress)
Understanding Natasha Trethewey (University of South Carolina Press, 2021)
Habitations of the Veil: Metaphor and the Poetics of Black Being in African American Literature (SUNY 2014)

Retrieving the Human, Rereading Paul Gilroy (with Jay Garcia, SUNY 2014)
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, The African. Written by Himself (Barnes & Noble, 2005)

The Thinker as Poet: The Poetries and Poetics of W. E. B. Du Bois : A critical, innovative, and fresh perspective on western philosophies of poetry guides my new book project, The Thinker as Poet: The Poetries and Poetics of W.E.B. Du Bois. In this project I examine how a radical re-situation of Du Bois’s poetics, which sees his versification as emerging from multiple, trans*human, and decolonial conceptions of “poetries,” serves to clarify the intellectual trajectory of his life-long dedication to poetries as a set of intentional projects of re-making and revision that move across categories of expression and across genres, breaking through colonizing borders of knowledge as it does so. In other words, rather than attending only to the more conventional and universal concept of “poetry,” this project conceives a multiplicity of poetics — simply put, Du Bois’s sublime poetries — that aim to breach the normative epistemological boundaries we usually employ in analyses of poetic knowledge and power. Using the plural “poetries” as an incipient sublime and hermeneutic lever, we can see how Du Bois disseminates discourses of the poetic as he challenges the boundaries of western white hetero-patriarchy, epistemology, and power reflected in historical conventions of the genre.

Podcast: The Poetry of W. E. B. Du Bois‘, from The Institute for the Arts and Humanities at UNC Chapel Hill.

Sarah Holm Tanzi

Sarah Holm Tanzi received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she studied economic and political theory. Her dissertation, “Free Market Authoritarianism and the Election of Donald Trump,” examines how scapegoating narratives are used to blame economic crisis on immigrant and minority populations, and how the right-wing media establishment works to make these narratives salient and influential to voters. Using a framework of intersectionality and using interdisciplinary methods, including discourse analysis, she researches what type of media narratives are most effective in mobilizing voters and shifting opinions. As a postdoctoral fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Center, she conducts archival research to investigate how Du Bois conceived of his role as both an academic and propogandist, and how empirical research can be coupled with popular media outlets to impact political mobilization and social change.

Carlyn Ferrari

Carlyn Ferrari is an Assistant Professor of English at Seattle University where she teaches courses on African American literature and culture and Black Feminism. She received her Ph.D. in Afro-American Studies from the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the  University of Massachusetts Amherst where she was awarded the Esther Terry Award for the Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation in Afro-American Studies (2018). She also earned graduate certificates in Advanced Feminist Studies and African Diaspora Studies. Her research explores the intersection between Black feminist thought and literary ecocriticism. Her scholarship has been supported by William A. Elwood Fellowship in Civil Rights and African-American Studies at the University of Virginia and the Joyce Avrech Berkman Endowed Fund for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is currently working on two book projects about poet and civil rights activist Anne Spencer, who was a longtime friend of W. E. B. Du Bois.

Graduate Fellows

Mtalika Banda

Muhammad Faraz

Aaron Yates

Valencia Harvey

Valencia Harvey is from Dallas, Texas. She studied African American Studies and Political Science at Purdue University. She also received her M.Ed. from Kent State University and advocated for underrepresented college students throughout her career as a student affairs administrator. She is a second-year PhD student in the W. E. B. DuBois Afro-American Studies Department at UMass Amherst. Valencia’s project seeks to further Du Bois’s practice of examining the footprints of slavery and western imperialism within a global carceral framing. Furthermore, she reconsiders the scope of the U.S. carceral state, situating the reach of the U.S. carceral state in relationship to the African continent.

Benjamin Nolan

Chanel Prince

Chanel Prince is a second year graduate student in sociology. She will review Du Bois’ 20th century engagement with racial capitalism and racial liberation within the Pan-African Black Liberation movement to better understand their coexistence within the 21st century movement. The Philadelphia Odunde Festival and the international Afropunk Festival will be used to explore this phenomenon.

Benjamin Scherrer

Benjamin Scherrer is a PhD student studying International Education Policy at UMass Amherst. His research project revisits Du Bois’s work in order to better understand race and climate change. Within the Du Bois archives, he is analyzing themes related to settler-colonial land use, development, and displacement. His field study in Louisiana examines forms of resistance within a community undergoing collective relocation due to patterns of flooding. His archival analysis will also serve to examine precursors to neoliberal policies and the global development complex, manifest as northern white philanthropy, through education and development programs such as those developed by Booker T. Washington and Sears Corporation’s Julius Rosenwald.