Department of English

Marah Nagelhout

M.A. Literature and Cultural Studies, Carnegie Mellon, 2015., B.A. English, Political Science, University of Montana, 2013.
Research Interests African American Studies and the Black Atlantic, American Literature and Culture, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Literary and Cultural Theory, Race and Slavery, Studies in the Novel, 20th-Century and Contemporary


My research focuses on 20th-century and contemporary literature, abolition ecologies, critical race theory, Black feminism, and Marxism. My dissertation, “Critique of Extractive Reason: Time and the Environmental Antiblackness of Racial Capital” traces the historical allegiance between extractive industries and the repressive mechanisms of the state. It travels from industrial slavery and post antebellum convict leasing to inmate oil spill cleanup and the idle occupants of “toxic prisons,” to show how extractive zones have long been sites where exposure to toxicity is racialized through labor, and where antiblackness is renaturalized — through colonial archaeologies of race and geologic grammars of time — as the dominant mechanism for securing the accumulative reserves necessary for capital’s survival. Moving beyond the geophysical processes of mining, I identify an extractive schema within the very value structure of capital to enable an alternative account of the state as that which produces and enforces what Marx calls “disposable time.” This is the time of the prison sentence, and the temporality of weaponized contingency whereby past extractive violence — be it policing or pollution — suspends subjects in anticipation of future violence. In so accounting, this work names the state’s foundational inability to contend with the destabilizing, displacing effects of climate collapse outside of its < /> existing infrastructures of disposal and containment, highlighting the exigency for collective investment in abolitionist alternatives.


“Nature and the ‘Industry that Scorched it’: Adorno and Anthropocene Aesthetics.” symplokē, Dec. 2016.