Three African-American Scholars Join the Department of English at Cornell University

Derrick Spires has been named an associate professor in the department of English at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He is currently an associate professor at the University of Illinois. He specializes in early African-American and American print culture, citizenship studies, and Black speculative fiction. He is the author of The Practice of Citizenship: Black Politics and Print Culture in the Early United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019)

Dr. Spires is a graduate of Tougaloo College in Mississippi, where he majored in English. He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. both in English from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nafissa Thompson-Spires has been named an assistant professor. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Illinois. She specializes in television studies and fiction studies. She is the author of Heads of the Colored People (37 Ink, 2018), which won her the 2019 PEN Open Book Award and made her a 2018 finalist for the Kirkus Prize.

Dr. Thompson-Spires holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University.

Chelsea Mikael Frazier has been named an assistant professor. As a writer, cultural studies scholar, and educator, her work focuses on the intersection of Black feminist theory and environmental thought. She is currently working on her first book manuscript which is an ecocritical study of contemporary Black women artists, writers, and activists.

Frazier is a graduate of Barnard College in New York City where she majored in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She holds a master’s degree in American studies from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and a master’s degree in African American studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where she is currently completing a Ph.D. in African American studies.


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