Dana A. Williams, Ph.D.
Dean of the Graduate School
Professor of African American Literature
"[E]ducation among all kinds of men always has had, and always will have, an element of danger and revolution, of dissatisfaction and discontent."
W.E.B. DuBois, "Of the Dawn of Freedom," The Souls of Black Folk
Dana A. Williams is Professor of African American Literature in the Department of English and Dean of the Graduate School at Howard University. Dean Williams earned her B.A. in English from Grambling State University in Grambling, LA in 1993, her M.A. in 1995 from Howard University, and her Ph.D. in African American Literature from Howard University in 1998. As a recipient of the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar award in 1999, she was a visiting research fellow at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where she completed extensive research on her dissertation author Leon Forrest. Before returning to Howard as a faculty member in 2003, Dr. Williams taught at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge for four years. In 2008-09, she was a faculty fellow at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University, and she assumed chairmanship of Howard's department of English in 2009. In 2019, she was named interim dean of the Graduate School, and in 2021, she became the Graduate School's first permanent female dean.
In addition to an annotated bibliography, Contemporary African American Female Playwrights: An Annotated Bibliography (Greenwood, 1999) which she completed as her M.A. thesis at Howard, Dr. Williams has co-edited August Wilson and Black Aesthetics (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2004) with Dr. Sandra G. Shannon, edited African American Humor, Irony, and Satire: Ishmael Reed, Satirically Speaking (Cambridge Scholars, 2007), Conversations with Leon Forrest (UP of Mississippi, 2007), and Contemporary African American Fiction: New Critical Essays (Ohio State UP, 2009). She is also the author of the first and only book-length study on Leon Forest, In the Light of Likeness--Transformed: The Literary Art of Leon Forrest (Ohio State UP, 2005). She currently completing a book-length study on Toni Morrison's editorship at Random House Publishing Company (forthcoming in 2023 with Amistad/Harper Collins).
In addition to her book projects, Dr. Williams has published articles in CLA Journal, African American Review, Bulletin of Bibliography, Langston Hughes Review, Zora Neale Hurston Forum, Studies in American Fiction, International Journal of the Humanities, Profession, and PMLA. She is the past president of the Association of the Departments of English Executive Committee, former chair of the Black American Literature and Culture Forum and former member of the Executive Council for the Modern Languages Association, and past President of the College Language Association--the oldest and largest professional organization for faculty of color who teach languages and literatures. She currently serves as President of the Toni Morrison Society, as a member of the Board of Directors for the American Council of Learned Societies and a board member of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, the Judge Alexander Williams Center at the University of Maryland, the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University, and the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College.