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The Esther M. Terry Award

Distinguished Dissertations in 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.


Markeysha Davis, Ph.D. 2016

Dissertation Title: "Daring propaganda for the beauty of the Human Mind:” Critical Consciousness—Raising in Poetry and Drama of the Black Power Era, 1965-1976"

Chair: James Smethurst


Karla V. Zelaya, Ph.D. 2015

Dissertation Title: "'Sweat the Technique'": Visible-izing Praxis Through Mimicry in Phillis Wheatley's "On Being Brought from Africa to America"

Chair: Steven Tracy


Donald Geesling, Ph.D. 2014

Dissertation Title: "'Survival Kits on Wax': The Politics, Poetics, and Productions of Gil Scott-Heron"

Chair: Ernest Allen


James Carroll, Ph.D. 2013

Dissertation Title: "Composing the African Atlantic: Sun Ra, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and the Poetics of African Diasporic Composition"

Chair: Steven Tracy


Ernest Gibson, Ph.D. 2012

Dissertation Title: "In Search of the Fraternal: Salvific Manhood and Male Intimacy in the Fiction of James Baldwin"

Chair: James Smethurst


Kabria Baumgartner, Ph.D. 2011

Dissertation Title: "Intellect, Liberty, Life: Women's Activism and the Politics of Black Education in Antebellum America"

Chair: Manisha Sinha


Jonathan Fenderson, Ph.D. 2011

Dissertation Title: "'Journey Toward a Black Aesthetic': Hoyt Fuller, the Black Arts Movement and the Black Intellectual Community"

Chair: James Smethurst


Christopher Tinson, Ph.D. 2010

Dissertation Title: "The Fight for Freedom Must Be Fought on all Fronts: Liberator Magazine and Black Radicalism, 1960-1971"

Chair: Ernest Allen