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I am currently Dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Utah, where in addition to deaning I write about leadership in higher education.


My latest book, Forms of Contention: Influence and the African American Sonnet Tradition (University of Georgia Press, 2020), explores the interrelationship of influence, double consciousness, canon-formation, and poetic form. I've previously edited or co-edited five books, including the Penguin Portable Nineteenth Century African American Women Writers, co-edited with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., which was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2017.


In a past life I was Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities at Sonoma State University, chair of the Department of Humanities at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University and Director of Hopkins’s Center for Africana Studies. I have been a fellow at the National Humanities Center (2017-2018) was the 2014 winner of the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award.

Before that, so many things, from water economist to fundraiser to political campaigner. 

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