Department of English

Semilore Sobande

B.A. Comparative Literature and African & African-American Studies, Stanford University, 2019.
Research Interests African American Studies and the Black Atlantic, Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Literary and Cultural Theory, Race and Slavery, Race and Ethnicity, 20th-Century and Contemporary, Studies in the Novel


I study 20th- and 21st-century Anglophone and Francophone Black Atlantic literature and cultural production. My research centers around three main questions. Firstly, how does the black person, particularly the black woman, serve as a limit case (to use Zakkiyah Jackson’s terms) and what does that mean from a formal and aesthetic standpoint? Two, how does black cultural production articulate alternative ways of being human and of relation? Three, how do these two aspects function in the context of an African diaspora that echoes itself across locations? What is the role of aesthetics in constructing the relationships between diasporic points, and in constructing blackness—again, particularly black womanhood—itself? Fundamentally, I explore how black literary and cultural productions—specifically those of black women—create ways of knowing, of interrupting dominant/hegemonic epistemologies, and of articulating alternate realities. My work focuses on how these texts provide new possibilities for envisioning the human by looking at how these acts of articulation function as both representation and creation of the self. Moving from Faulkner to Condé to Josephine Baker, my dissertation explores the aforementioned questions in relation to their impact on the concept of excess.