The W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies is a vibrant center of intellectual productivity and interdisciplinary teaching and research. But because of the statewide and nationwide budget crisis, we are threatened with severe losses in state funding. Please help us preserve our capacity to continue providing our students with excellent education. Your contributions will help us offer scholarships and social events, and host visits by internationally renowned scholars. If you have made contributions to the Department in the past, thank you again. For those who have not, please contribute now to help the Du Bois Department continue its tradition of excellence during this period of economic crisis. 

Information for graduates of the Du Bois Departmentpicture of three doctoral graduates in Afro-American Studies

If you were a graduate or undergraduate student in the UMass Amherst Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, please email Tricia Loveland  to update your alumni profile in our Graduate Alumni Directory. Also we have created a Facebook page for alumni and current students to network (see below). Stay connected to UMass and support the Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies.

Dissertation committees may unanimously award students with a distinction for their doctoral work. All dissertations earning a distinction during the defense are automatically nominated for the annual Esther M. Terry Award for the most outstanding dissertation.

Ph.D. Alumni


Julia Bernier received a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship for the Study of Slavery at Georgetown University for the 2017-2018 academic year. She will support research related to the university's Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation initiative. She will also continue working on her current project on self-purchase in the antebellum United States.

Crystal Donkor successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "'Woman thou art loosed': Black Female Sexuality Unhinged in the Fiction of Frances Harper and Pauline Hopkins"

Spencer Kuchle successfully defended her dissertation entitled, ""Texts and Subtexts in Performing Blackness: Vernacular Masking in Key and Peele as a Lens for Viewing Paul Lawrence Dunbar's Musical Comedy"

Trent Masiki successfully defended his dissertation entitled, ""The Afroethnic Impulse and Renewal: African American Transulturations in Afro-Latino Bildung Narratives, 1961-2013"

Xianzhi (Shirley) Meng successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "A Site of Nation: Black Utopian Novels in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries"

Kelli Morgan successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "We Are Roses From Our Mothers' Gardens: Black Feminist Visuality in African American Women's Art"

Jacinta Saffold has been awarded a Mellon/ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies) Public Fellows postdoctoral appointment. She will serve as the Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in September 2017.

Crystal Webster successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Beyond the Boundaries of Childhood: Northern African American Children's Cultural an Political Resistance, 1780-1861".  Dr. Webster will be a Lecturer in Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst for AY 2017-2018.


Flávia Santos de Araújo successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Moving Against Clothespins: The Poli(poe)tics of Emodiment in the Poetry of Miriam Alves and Audre Lorde"

Markeysha Davis successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Daring propaganda for the Beauty of teh Human Mind:" Critical Consciousness—Raising in Poetry and Drama of the Black Power Era, 1965-1976


H. Zahra Caldwell successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Imaging Her Selves: Black Women Artists, Resistance, Image and Representation, 1937-1957"

Emahunn Campbell has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of English at Washington and Lee University. He successfully defended his dissertation entitled, "The Imagination and Construction of the Black Criminal in American Literature, 1741-1910"

Savannah Carroll successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Creating the Ideal Mexican: 20th and 21st Century Racial and National Identity Discourses in Oaxaca"

Julia Charles has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Early African American Literature at Auburn University. She successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "The (Dis)ability of Color; or, That Middle World: Toward a New Understanding of 19th and 20th Century Passing Narratives"

J. Anthony Guillory, Assistant Professor at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). He successfully defended his dissertation entitled, "The Physical Uplift of the Race: The Emergence of the African American Physical Culture Movement, 1900-1930"

Jason Hendrickson successfully defended his dissertation entitled, "Race Patriots: Black Poets, Transnational Identity, and Diasporic Versification in the United States Before the New Negro"

Karla Zelaya, Lecturer in the Afro-American Studies Department, UMass Amherst


Vanessa Fabien, Post-Doctoral Fellow at Brown University

Donald Geesling taught in the Du Bois Department as a Lecturer for Fall 2015 semester


Allia Abdullah Matta, Assistant Professor of English at LaGuardia College CUNY

James Carroll

David Swiderski, Visiting Professor at Wesleyan University


Ernest Gibson, III, Assistant Professor of English at Rhodes College

McKinley Melton, Assistant Professor of English at Gettysburg College

Jamal Watson, Senior Staff Writer, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education


Kabria Baumgartner, Assistant Professor of History, The College of Wooster

Jonathan Fenderson, Assistant Professor in African & African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis


Catherine Adams, Assistant Professor of English, Paine College

Jacqueline Jones, Assistant Professor of English, CUNY LaGuardia Community College

David LucanderAssistant Professor of Pluralism and Diversity, SUNY Rockland Community College

Christopher Tinson, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Hampshire College


Daniel McClure, Assistant Professor of African American History, Grand Valley State University

Alesia McFaddenInstructor, Prince George's Community College

Anthony Ratcliff, Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies, California State University


Thomas EdgeInstructor of Ethnic Studies, Bowling Green State University

Marieta Joyner, Associate Lecturer of Politics and History, Curry College

Zebulon Miletsky, Assistant Professor, Africana Studies, Stony Brook University


Michael Forbes,College of Wooster

Lloren Foster, Executive Director of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs (MCDA), University of Florida

Ousmane Power-Greene, Associate Professor of History, Clark University

Rita Reynolds, Assistant Professor of History, Wagner College

Lindsey Swindall, Visiting Professor, Department of History, Sam Houston State University

W.S. Tkweme, Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies, University of Louisville

Paul Udofia,Adjunct Instructor, Roxbury Community College.

Angelica Whitmal, Sophomore and Junior Class Dean, Mount Holyoke College


Sandra Duvivier, Assistant Professor of English, Bronx Community College and Adjunct at Queens College

David Goldberg, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Wayne State University

Andrew Rosa, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Western Kentucky University


Tanya Mears, Assistant Professor of History and Politics at Worcester State College

Trimiko Melancon, Assistant Professor of English, Loyola University


Shawn Alexander, Assistant Professor of African & African American Studies and interim director of the Langston Hughes Center, University of Kansas

Brandon Hutchinson, Associate Professor of English, Southern Connecticut State University

Jennifer Jensen-Wallach, Assistant Professor of History, University of North Texas


Stephanie Evans,Chair, History Department and Associate Professor of African American and Africana Women's Studies at Clark Atlanta University


Carolyn PowellAdministrator, New York City Public School System

Francis Njubi Nesbitt, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at San Diego State University

Christopher Lehman, Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies, St. Cloud State University 


Terminal M.A. Alumni

Olivia Brown received her M.A. in May, 2014 from our terminal Master's Program. 

Xavier G. Orr received his M.A. in May, 2017 from our terminal Master's Program.


Radwa Ashour (1946-2014), the Egyptian writer and scholar born in Cairo, Egypt in 1946, is the department's first Ph.D. graduate. She earned her degree in African American Literature at the University of Massachusetts in 1975 (working jointly in the English & the Du Bois Department).

In 1973, a joyfully-cultivated friendship with Shirley Graham Du Bois, world traveler, litterateur, and widow of W.E.B., led Ashour to UMass. Madame Du Bois, as the école-educated Ashour called her liaison to Amherst, was living in Cairo at the time, and pointed the young Egyptian toward the then-infant Afro-American Studies department here. "She said, 'the best department in the United States is at UMass,'" recalled Ashour, remembering how Du Bois returned from a visit to Massachusetts with an application and a scholarship for her protegé. Ashour has published seven novels, an autobiographical work, two collections of short stories and five books of criticism. Part I of her Granada Trilogy won the Cairo International Book Fair “1994 Book of the Year Award”; the Trilogy won the First Prize of the First Arab Woman Book Fair (Cairo, Nov. 1995). She has co-edited a major four-volume work on Arab women writers (2004) and its English translation: Arab Women Writings: A Critical Reference Guide: 1873-1999 (AUC Press 2008). In 2007 Ashour was awarded the Constantine Cavafy Prize for Literature. She was a professor of English and Comparative Literature, Ain Shams University, Cairo.