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Emily Lordi

Associate Professor

picture of Emily Lordi

W341 South College

Ph.D., Columbia University, 2009
M.A., Columbia University, 2003
B.A., Vassar College, 2001

Emily J. Lordi is a writer, professor, and cultural critic whose primary areas of expertise are African American literature and black popular music. She is the author of two books—Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature and Donny Hathaway Live—and is currently completing a book about soul. In addition to scholarly articles on topics ranging from literary modernism to Beyoncé, she writes arts and culture essays for sites like The New Yorker and The Atlantic. For more information, please see this site.

Research Areas

  • 20th Century and Contemporary Literature
  • African, African American, & African Diaspora
  • American Literature, Drama and Performance



  • Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature (Rutgers UP, 2013)
  • Donny Hathaway Live (Bloomsbury 33⅓ series, 2016)
  • Keeping On: Soul, Black Music, Resilience (under contract with Duke University Press)

Articles and Book Chapters:

  • “Between the World and the Addressee: Epistolary Nonfiction by Ta-Nehisi Coates and His Peers,” forthcoming in College Language Association Journal (special issue ed. M. Hill, J. Welburn, D. Whaley), 2018

  • “Keyword: Soul," in Keywords in African American Studies, ed. R. Ferguson, E. Edwards, J. Ogbar, under contract with Duke University Press

  • “Black Radio,” in Are You Entertained? New Essays on Black Popular Culture in the 21st Century, ed. S. Drake and D. Simmons, forthcoming 2018

  • “Surviving the Hustle: Beyoncé’s Performance of Work,” Black Camera (special issue ed. Stephanie Li) 9.1 (2017)

  • “‘black and going on women’: Lucille Clifton, Elizabeth Alexander, and the Poetry of Grief,” Palimpsest 6.1 (2017)

  • “Post-Soul Aesthetics,” Oxford Bibliographies Online, 2017

  • “Souls Intact: The Soul Performances of Audre Lorde, Aretha Franklin, and Nina Simone,” Women & Performance 26.1 (2016)

  • “James Baldwin and the Sound of Soul,” New Centennial Review (special issue ed. J. Drabinski and G. Farred) 16.2 (2016)

  • “Blues and Jazz Modernisms,” in The Cambridge Companion to the American Modernist Novel, ed. Joshua L. Miller (2015)

  • “Fading Out: White Flight and Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Stand!’” Journal of Popular Music Studies 24.3 (2012)

    “‘Window Seat’: Erykah Badu, Projective Cultural Politics, and the Obama Era,” Post45 Peer Reviewed (2011)

Selected Public Scholarship:

  • “The Artful, Erotic, and Still Misunderstood Funk of Betty Davis,”, May 2, 2018

  • “Nikki Giovanni: ‘Martin Had Faith in the People,’” The Atlantic, April 5, 2018

  • “The Holiday Brilliance of Donny Hathaway’s ‘This Christmas,’”, December 19, 2017

  • “Hearing Otis Redding’s ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ as a Song of Resistance,” The Atlantic, December 10, 2017

  • “‘Radical Hope’ and the Political Power of the Open Letter,” The Atlantic, May 15, 2017

  • “Solange’s ‘A Seat at the Table’ Doesn’t Have an Empowering ‘Message…,’” Slate, October 6, 2016

  • “Beyoncé’s Other Women: The Soul Muses of ‘Lemonade,’” The Fader, May 6, 2016

  • “Luminous Loss” (review of Light of the World, by Elizabeth Alexander), Los Angeles Review of Books, June 4, 2015

  • “Why is Academic Writing So Beautiful? Notes on Black Feminist Scholarship,” The Feminist Wire, March 4, 2014

Courses Recently Taught

  • African American Music and Literature (Graduate 891 & 491AK)
  • James Baldwin (Graduate, 891AU)
  • James Baldwin and Toni Morrison (Graduate 891BT)
  • African American Literature, 1980-Present (371)
  • Black Memoir (300)
  • American Fiction (376)
  • American Literature and Culture after 1865 (269)
  • Contemporary Black Women Writers (WGSS 395W, Engl 491BE)
  • Twentieth-Century American Literature (374)
  • Intensive Literary Studies (200)