Photo of Surya Parekh


  Assistant Professor, English 
  PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2013


Area of Interest

  • 18th Century Enlightenment
  • Critical Race and Gender Studies
  • Black Cultural Studies
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Feminist Theory

Book Projects

Reading the Black Enlightenment: Black Subjectivity, Indigeneity, and the Cosmopolitan.

The project investigates the shared discursive universe of 18th-century slave literature and Enlightenment thought. Through the figure of Black Enlightenment (a figure articulating Afro-diasporic and indigenous thought) the book proposes an interdisciplinary and transnational interpretive framework that revisits the Enlightenment values – dignity, universality, humanity, and citizenship – that form cosmopolitanism. The book argues a deeper set of connections between Enlightenment values and slavery than has been typically held.  I am particularly interested in how fractured figures of gender - the black female slave; the Native American “free” woman – mediate the rhetoric and semiotics of an Enlightenment humanism that includes pre-Revolutionary American thought, articulating themes of race, slavery, political freedom, and mental capacity. Throughout, the book explores what a putatively black universal and black humanity might be.

Recent Publications

“Claiming Philosophical Identity: Review of Nahum Chandler’s The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought (2015)” (Forthcoming)

 “Hegel’s New World: History, Freedom, and Race” in Hegel and History, Will Dudley, ed., Albany: SUNY Press 2010), pp. 111-134

“(Dis)Figuring Kant: Criticism and Black Subjectivity” (under review)

“Affirmations of Blackness: Phillis Wheatley’s Enlightenment” (in progress)

“Constructing Blackness Out of Indigeneity: Afro-Native Connections in Enlightenment Thought” (in progress)

Select Awards and Affiliations

2014-2015 Africana Research Center Postdoctoral Fellow, The Pennsylvania State University

2013-2014 Alain Locke Postdoctoral Fellow, The Pennsylvania State University

Member, Race and Ethnic Diversity Committee, SPEP

Affiliated Faculty, Citizenship, Rights, and Cultural Belonging, TAE

Recent Courses Taught

  • The Enlightenment, Otherwise
  • Introduction to Marx and Critical Theory
  • Globalization and Literary Culture
  • Slavery and Literature



Last Updated: 7/27/16