Curriculum Vitae

Degrees Awarded

1998            Ph.D., African American Literature

Howard University (Washington, D.C.)


1995            M.A., African American Literature

Howard University, (Washington, D.C)


1993            B.A., English

Grambling State University (Grambling, LA)

Teaching and University Experience


April 2021-Present                    Dean of the Graduate School


February 2019-April 2021      Interim Dean of the Graduate School 


Aug. 2003–Present                   Professor of African American Literature

           Howard University (Washington, D.C.)


2009-2019                                   Chair, Department of English

          Howard University (Washington, D.C.)


Aug. 2008-Jul. 2009                 John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute HBCU

          Faculty Fellow

          Duke University (Durham, NC)


Aug. 1999-May 2003              Assistant Professor of African American Literature

          Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA)


Aug. 1999-Jul. 2000                Ford Foundation Post-Doctoral Scholar

          Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)


Aug. 1998-May 1999              Lecturer, Department of English

         Howard University (Washington, D.C.)














Contemporary African American Fiction:

New Critical Essays

181 pp, Ohio State UP, 2009












"In the Light of Likeness-Transformed": The Literary Art of Leon Forrest 

208 pp, Ohio State UP, 2005












African American Humor, Irony, and Satire: Ishmael Reed, Satirically Speaking

170 pp, Cambridge Scholars, 2007













August Wilson and Black Aesthetics

229 pp, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. 












Conversations with Leon Forrest

192 pp, U of Mississippi P, 2007.

Book Chapters, Volume Contributions, and General Articles

Virginia Governor Race Highlights Irony of Banning Beloved from Schools.” NBC News Think, 2021.

“August Wilson.” (with Aja Kennedy) Oxford Bibliographies in American Literature. Ed. Jackson Bryer. New York: Oxford UP, 2018.  

Teaching Students to Examine the Role of Women in August Wilson's Plays.” Approaches to Teaching the Plays of

August Wilson. Eds. Sandra G. Shannon and Sandra L. Richards. New York: Modern Language Association P, 2016. 179-89.

Whither Now and Why: Content Mastery and Pedagogy—A Critique and a Challenge.”The Trouble with Post-

Blackness. Eds. Houston A. Baker, Jr. and Merinda Simmons. New York: Columbia UP, 2014. 209-19.

To Make a Humanist Black: Toni Morrison’s Howard Years.” Memory and Meaning: Essays in Honor of Toni

Morrison on Her 80th Birthday.  Eds. Adrienne Seward and Justine Tally. Jackson: U of Mississippi P, 2014. 42-50.

Toward the Theoretical Practice of Conceptual Liberation: Using an African Studies Approach to Reading African

American Literary Texts.”  (with Greg Carr). Contemporary African American Literature: The Living Canon. Eds. Lovalerie King and Shirley Moody.  New York: Palgrave, 2013.  302-26.

Contesting Black Male Responsibilities in August Wilson’s Jitney.”August Wilson: Completing the Twentieth-

Century Cycle. Ed. Alan M. Nadel. Iowa City: U Iowa P, 2010. 30-40.

“The Seams Must Show: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God as an Introduction to

Deconstruction.” Approaches to Teaching Their Eyes Were Watching God. Ed. John W. Lowe. NY: Modern Language Association, 2009. 89-92. 

“Contemporary African American Writers.” The Cambridge Companion to African American Women Writers. Eds.

Angelyn Mitchell and Danielle Taylor. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. 71-86.

“Jazz Aesthetics and the Revision of Myth in Leon Forrest’s There Is a Tree More Ancient than Eden.” The Funk Era

and Beyond: New Perspectives on Black Popular Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 

Lessons before Dying: The Contemporary Confined Character-in-Process.” From the Plantation to the Prison:

African American Confinement Literature. Ed. Tara T. Green. Macon: Mercer UP, 2008. 32-57.

“Dancing Minds and Plays in the Dark: Intersections of Fiction and Critical Texts in Gayl Jones’s Corregidora, Toni

Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters, and Toni Morrison’s Paradise.” New Essays on the African American Novel: From Hurston and Ellison to Morrison and Whitehead. Eds. Lovalerie King and Linda Selzer. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. 93-106. 

“Leon Forrest: A Gift of Story and Song.” Encyclopedia on Twentieth Century African American Literature. Ed.

Wilfred D. Samuels. New York: Facts on File, 2007. 

Refereed Articles

“Take My Dean, Please: Advice from a Happy Chair-Turned-Dean.” Profession (Winter 2020). 

“For Us, To Us, About Us—Racial Unrest and Cultural Transformation.” (with Kendra Parker) CLA Journal 63.2

(Special Issue guest co-editor) August 2020: 135-40.  

 “The (Ever)Lasting Significance of Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon.” (with Jimisha Relerford) Langston Hughes Review 26.1

(2020): 94-106.   

 “‘The Next Time You Got Questions Like That, Ask Yourself.’” African American Review (forum on Literary Criticism

in the Age of Trump) 51.4 (Winter 2018): 273-78.    

“Reconstructing Ancestral Legacy in The Coming: An Interview with Daniel Black.” College Language Association

       Journal 60.2 (December 2016): 260-65. 

“Decolonizing the University: The 2016 Presidential Address.” College Language Association Journal 60.2 (December

     2016): 172-78. 

Merits of The Birth of a Nation Shouldn't be obscured by rape controversy.” The Undefeated, 8 November 2016.

Racial Mythologies, Neoliberal Seductions, and the Fictioning of Blackness: An SOS from ‘Old Lem.’” American

Literary History 28.4 (2016): 835-44.

Everybody’s Protest Narrative: Between the World and Me and the Limits of Genre. African American Review 49.3

(Fall 2016): 179-83. 

“The Cross as Lynching Tree in Leon Forrest’s There Is a Tree More Ancient than Eden.” VP Annual 2016: 75-80. 

Fiction Redux: Common Core and the Vanishing Art of Reading Ourselves. ADE Bulletin 154 (2015): 39-43. 

Dusk of Dawn’: An Essay toward an Old Concept of Race: or ‘On the Death of Michael Brown.College Language

Association Journal 58.3-4 (March/June 2015): 221-20. 

Jeffery Renard Allen: An Introduction.” (with Reggie Scott Young) Obsidian: Literature and Arts in the African

Diaspora (40th Anniversary Special Issue) 40. 1-2 (2014).

“‘The Field and Function’ of the Historically Black College and University Today: Preparing African American

Undergraduate Students for Doctoral Study in the Humanities.” Profession 2013 (an online publication of the Modern Languages Association).

Fifty Years of CLAJ, 1957-2007. College Language Association Journal 57.1 (September 2013): 2-8. 

More than a Fever: Toward a Theory of the Ethnic Archive.” (with Marissa Lopez) PMLA 127.12 (Fall 2012): 357-


Mari Evans’s ‘Blackness: A Definition’: New Dimensions.” Langston Hughes Review 22 (Fall 2008): 46-57.

“‘America Never Was America to Me’: The (Re)Appropriation of Myth in August Wilson’s African American

Pentateuch.” Zora Neale Hurston Forum (Special Issue on August Wilson) 20 (2008): 41-58.  

Playing on the ‘Darky’: Blackface Minstrelsy, Identity Construction, and the Deconstruction of Race in Toni

Morrison’s Paradise.” Studies in American Fiction 35 (Autumn 2007): 181-200.

Examining the Relation between Race and Student Evaluations of Faculty Members: A Literature Review.”

Profession 1 (2007): 168-73.

‘Broad Sympathy’: Howard University's DuBoisian Approach to Blackness and the Humanities. International Journal

of the Humanities 2.3 (2004): 2509-2515.

Preachin’ and Singin’ Just to Make It Over:  The Gospel Impulse as Survival Strategy in Leon Forrest’s Bloodworth

Trilogy.” African American Review 36 (Fall 2002): 475-85.

Making the Bones Live Again: A Look at ‘The Bones People’ in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and

Henry Dumas’s ‘Ark of Bones.” College Language Association Journal 42 (March 1999): 309-19.

Leon Forrest.”  African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook. Ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson.

 Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 1999.  158-163. 

“A Review Essay of Scholarly Criticism on the Drama of August Wilson.” Bulletin of Bibliography 55 (June 1998):



Contact Dr. Williams

Graduate School | Howard University

 4th and College Streets, NW 

Anex III, Suite 200

Washington, DC 20059 

Phone: 202-806-4676 


For Literary inquiries please contact:

Johanna Castillo at Writer House, LLC