Cameron Awkward-Rich is a poet and a scholar of trans theory/expressive culture. Awkward-Rich received his B.A. in English and Biology from Wesleyan University and his Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University. His writing and teaching creatively combine trans/feminist/queer theory, disability studies, black studies, and poetry and other forms of experimental writing to explore transgender aesthetics and cultural production, the conflicted histories of trans/feminist/queer thought in the U.S., and collective affect/feeling.
His most recent book, The Terrible We: Thinking with Trans Maladjustment (Duke University Press, 2022) was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Nonfiction and received a Duke UP Scholars of Color First Book award. The Terrible We thinks with the bad feelings and mad habits of thought that persist in both transphobic discourse and trans cultural production. Observing that trans studies was founded on a split from and disavowal of madness, illness, and disability, the book argues for and models a trans criticism that works against this disavowal. His current projects extend this orientation and includes an edited volume of Red Jordan Arobateau’s life-writing and a monograph exploring a genealogy of U.S. black/trans creativity, from Pauli Murray’s 1930s to the present. Awkward-Rich’s other academic writing has appeared in Signs, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, American Quarterly, The Routledge Companion to Literature and Disability, Feminist Formations, and elsewhere and has been supported by a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.
Awkward-Rich is also the author of two collections of poetry, Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016) and Dispatch (Persea Books, 2019), which received the press’s Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award. His creative writing has appeared, in various forms, in Poetry, American Poetry Review, African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song: A Library of America Anthology, The Kenyon Review and elsewhere, and has been supported by fellowships from Cave Canem, The Watering Hole, and the Lannan Foundation.
Before coming to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Awkward-Rich was Postdoctoral Fellow in the Transgender Studies & Humanities Project with the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University.
Trans/feminist/queer theory and methods; disability studies; contemporary American literature; and creative writing
- The Terrible We: Thinking with Trans Maladjustment (Duke University Press, 2022)
- Dispatch: Poems (Persea Books, 2019)
- Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016)
- “The t4t Issue,” Transgender Studies Quarterly 9, no. 1 (Feb. 2022), with Hil Malatino
- “Before Trans Studies,” Transgender Studies Quarterly 7, no. 3 (forthcoming), with Cassius Adair and Amy Marvin.
- “Trans, Feminism or Reading Like a Depressed Transsexual,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 42, no.4 (Summer 2017): 819-841.
- “Thinking Black [Trans] Gender,” American Quarterly 71, no. 3 (September 2019): 903-914
Courses Recently Taught
- Geneaologies of Feminist Thought
- Poetry and/as Black Feminist Thought
- Trans and Queer of Color Thought
- Introduction to Transgender Studies
- Futures of Race/Sex/Gender