Jesse A. Goldberg completed his PhD in African American literature at Cornell University in 2018, where he taught classes for the department of English and the Program in American Studies as well as the Cornell Prison Education Program, before joining the faculty at Longwood University as Visiting Assistant Professor of English. An interdisciplinary black studies and American studies scholar, Jesse writes and teaches courses on the intersection of race, gender, class, and sexuality with U.S. law; prisons, policing, and carcerality studies; and the afterlife of slavery in African American literature and performance. His writing is published or forthcoming in Callaloo, Public Culture, MELUS, and CLA Journal, as well as the edited volumes Infrastructures of African American Print and Toni Morrison on Mothers and Motherhood.


Jesse is currently working on a book project titled Abolition Time: Slavery’s Afterlife and the Excessive Present in Law, Literature, and Performance. Coming out of his dissertation work, the project uses the 1781 Zong Massacre as a grounding motif to examine literary and performative texts of the Black Atlantic that engage questions of law, justice, and time. Abolition Time argues that in addition to registering the memory of slavery as exceeding attempts at historical repression, a number of Black Atlantic texts formulate theories of justice which put pressure on the law’s excessive violence through meditating on all that exceeds the law’s reach, resulting in literary and performative articulations of an “excessive present” wherein the past and future fold into a single “now” that unfolds into an ethical imperative for abolitionist politics. Abolition time, then, signals the urgency of a political demand which exceeds historical periodization.


Ph.D., English Language and Literature, Cornell University, 2018

M.A., English Language and Literature, Cornell University, 2015

B.A. English/B.A. Philosophy, State University of New York at Geneseo, 2012, Summa Cum Laude

Other Publications

  • Journal Articles

“James Baldwin and the Force of Law: Violence and the Anti-Black (Il)Logic of U.S> Policing.” Public Culture. (Forthcoming 2019).

“Restored Literary Behaviors of Neo-Slave Narratives: The Ethics of Witnessing in the Excessive Present.” Callaloo. (Forthcoming 2018).

“Slavery’s Ghosts and the Haunted Housing Crisis: On Narrative Economy and Circum-Atlantic Memory in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.” MELUS 41.4 (December 2016): 116-139.

“Theorizing and Resisting the Violence of Stop and Frisk-style Profiling.” CLA Journal 58.4 (July 2016): 256-276.


  • Book Chapters/Collected Essays

“‘This will incite a riot’: Black Studies and Academic (Un)Freedom in Prison Education.” Teaching Literature and Writing in Prisons. Eds. Sheila Smith McKoy and Patrick Elliot Alexander (Modern Language Association, 2020): forthcoming.

“Performative Paratexts: Post-Blackness, Law, and Periodizing African American Literature.” African American Expression in Print and Digital Culture. Eds. Brigitte Fielder and Jonathan Senchyne (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2019): forthcoming.

“From Sweetness to Toya Graham: Intersectionality and the Im/Possibility of Maternal Ethics.” Toni Morrison and Mothers/Motherhood. Eds. Lee Baxter & Martha Satz (Ontario, Canada: April 2017): forthcoming.


  • Book Reviews

“Ethics and Troubled Kinship in the Wake of Disaster.” ASAP Journal (forthcoming 2019). Review essay on Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016) and Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016).

Review of Lindon Barrett’s Racial Blackness and the Discontinuity of Western Modernity (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014). In Journal of Black Studies 46.8 (November 2015): 843-846.

Review of Salamishah Tillet’s Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012). In Callaloo 38.1 (Winter 2015): 228-231.


  • Public Writing

“Male Ego Bulls**t: On martial arts training, violence, and toxic masculinity.” The Feminist Wire. November 2016. URL: http://www.thefeministwire.com/2016/11/jesse-goldberg/


Works in Progress:
Abolition Time: Slavery’s Afterlife and The Excessive Present in Law, Literature, and Performance (book project)

“Scenes of Resurrection; or, Breathing Unbreathable Air” (journal article)

“Singing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Limits of Walt Whitman’s Democratic Vision” (journal article)

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

“Sinking in order to Breathe: Escaping Without Leaving in Get Out”; American Studies Association Annual Meeting (Atlanta, GA: Nov. 8-11, 2018)
“James Baldwin and the Force of Law”; Public Culture conference on Violence & Policing (New York, NY: Oct. 26-28, 2018)


American Studies Association

Modern Language Association

Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities

College Language Association

Jesse A. Goldberg

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