Omari Weekes

Assistant Professor of English

Education

PhD in English; Graduate Certificate in College and University Teaching, University of Pennsylvania

MA in English, University of Pennsylvania

BA in English, Macaulay Honors College at Queens College, City University of New York

Teaching Interests and Philosophy

  • African American Literature
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Gender/Sexuality Studies
  • 20th Century American Literature

 My teaching philosophy reflects a great interest in preparing students to engage critically with the world around them. I teach in order to challenge the ways in which students come to even their most basic assumptions about those around them and their various identity categories. One of my main goals as a pedagogue is to encourage students to think broadly and expansively at all times in an environment that encourages both robust discussion and active listening. Our work in the classroom does not end with the grading of a final paper; rather, it begins with the impressions that my classes make on its participants and, ideally, the work we do in my classroom continues to be impactful long after finals week. With this goal in mind, I aim to make the classroom a site of critical analysis, topical engagement, and character development that allows students to better interact with their environment and their communities.

Research

My work focuses on the affective dimensions of spiritual experience for people of African descent in the United States and the Americas. My current book project, Lurid Affinities: Sex and the Spirit in Contemporary Black Literature argues that much black writing in the post-civil rights era thinks through the dialectic between the sacred and the profane not only through the expression of various desires that push up against traditional theological teachings about gender and sex but also by accounting for a matrix of pre-discursive intensities, attractions, and longings that help to organize the kinds of communities that black people construct for themselves. These affects are not diametrically opposed to religion; more precisely, these affective relations are often informed by various spiritual systems as they also inform African Americans’ understandings of their own spiritual selves. Lurid Affinities turns to the work of writers like James Baldwin, Toni Cade Bambara, Jericho Brown, Toni Morrison, and others in order to explore how black writers register deviance and spirituality not as antipodal ideas but as imbricated components of black life.

Selected Recent Publications

"We Had a Shakespeare" with Elias Rodriques, n+1 (2019)

 "African American Studies: Foundations and Key Concepts", JSTOR Daily (2019)

 The Slow Burn, vol. 2: Summer of Knausgaard, Post 45: Contemporaries (2016, 2018)