Eden K. Osucha
Associate Professor of English
Hathorn Hall, Room 302
Prof. Osucha’s areas of research expertise include Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture, African American Studies, Legal Studies, Critical Race Studies, Visual Culture, Queer Studies, and Feminist Theory. Her book manuscript, The Post-Racial Past: Race, Privacy and Identity Before the Obama Era, examines historical productions of the discourse commonly called “the post-racial” prior to the twenty-first century, at the intersections of law, literature, and media culture. The Post-Racial Past argues that contemporary post-racialism originates in the legal history of “privacy,” which Prof. Osucha traces beyond the formal recognition of a right to privacy in constitutional law to antebellum slave law that regarded the sovereignty of slave masters as a natural right rooted in the master-slave relation’s “private” nature. Through linked analyses of literary works and legal writing–including Supreme Court opinions, statutory laws, and legal scholarship–and visual texts from cinema and television to nineteenth-century commercial media, The Post-Racial Past argues that the legal right to privacy’s development via racialized technologies of publicity, surveillance, and sexuality made broader discourses of race, privacy, and identity increasingly enmeshed and conceptually interdependent. Exploring the acute racialization of a rights claim overtly linked, throughout its history, to gendered and sexuality-based identity claim, the book demonstrates how legal privacy anticipated, rehearsed, and consolidated post-racialism prior to its becoming, at the start of the Obama Era, a dominant ideology still pervasive within the political and cultural contradictions of American racism in the present.
Prof. Osucha is appointed to the faculty steering committees of the Programs in American Cultural Studies and African American Studies and has also served as a member of the Program Committee for Gender and Sexuality Studies and as a founding member of the college’s Arts Collaborative. Recent public humanities work includes serving as lead project scholar for Violence and Belonging: The 14th Amendment and American Literature, which examines legacies of the Fourteenth Amendment for the nation’s literary history, for the Maine Humanities Council’s public libraries’ book group program, and co-curator of Site Seeing: 9/11 Through Documentary Shorts, a program developed for Portland, Maine’s SPACE Gallery, featuring short documentary and experimental films created as artistic responses to 9/11.
Recent and forthcoming publications:
- “‘how to see without pictures’: African American Literature and the 1993 Whitney Biennial.” African American Literature in Transition, 1750-2015, vol. 1990-200, eds. Herman Beavers and Margo Natalie Crawford, Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
“Object Kinship and Antiquities Law: A Counter-Poetics of Legal Provenance in Louise Erdrich’s The Painted Drum, Critical Analysis of Law“, 5:2 (forthcoming Dec. 2018)
- “Queer Theory,” Johns Hopkins Guide to Critical and Cultural Theory, Eds. Martin Kreisworth, Imre Szeman, Andrew Pendakis, and Cymene Howe (forthcoming)
- Review of The African Burial Ground in New York City: Memory, Spirituality, and Space, by Andrea Frohne. caa.reviews (forthcoming)
- “Black President Bush: The Racial and Gender Politics of Dave Chappelle’s Presidential Drag,”Neo-Passing: Performing Identity after Jim Crow, Eds. Mollie Godfrey and Vershawn Young. Champaign: UI Press, 2018.
- Carol Batker, Eden Osucha, and Augusta Rohrbach, “Introduction: Critical Pedagogies for a Changing World.” American Literature 1 June 2017; 89 (2): 213–223.
- Carol Batker, Eden Osucha, and Augusta Rohrbach, eds. Special Issue: “Pedagogy: Critical Practices for a Changing World” American Literature, 89.2 (2017).
- “Presence + Polarization: Natalie Bookchin’s Portraits of America,” The Chart, 2.3 (Spring 2017).
- “Race and the Regulation of Intimacy in the Moynihan Report, the Griswold Decision and Morrison’s Paradise,” American Literary History 27.2 (2015): 256-284.
- “Passing in Blackface: The Intimate Drama of Post-Racialism on Black.White.,” Passing Interest: Racial Passing in U.S. Fiction, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990-2010, Ed. Julie Cary Nerad. Albany: SUNY Press, 2014.
- “More Life: An Appreciation,” Avidly: A Channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books, June 18, 2013.
- “The Whiteness of Privacy: Race, Media, Law,” Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, 24.170 (2009): 67-107.
- Review of Intimacy in America: Dreams of Affiliation in Antebellum Literature, by Peter Coviello, and The Public Life of Privacy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, by Stacey Margolis, American Literature 81 (2009): 390-392.
- Review of Signs and Cities: Black Literary Postmodernism, by Madhu Dubey, and Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity, by E. Patrick Johnson, American Literature September 2006: 643-645.
In development or under consideration
- The Post-Racial Past: Race, Privacy and Identity Before the Obama Era (book manuscript)
- “Between the Bod Cam and the Black Body: Law, the Visual, and the Post-Panoptic Racial Interface” (essay)
- “‘haunted by stuff’: What Remains of History in Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days”(article)
- Teaching 9/11 and its Aftermaths (edited volume in development for the Modern Language Association’s Options for Teaching series of publications)
Prof. Osucha’s awards and honors include the Mrs. Giles Whiting Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the Nancy L. Buc Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University, and a Dissertation Fellowship from the Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships Program, administered by the National Research Council of the National Academies.
Literary Arts Live
A published poet and creative writing teacher, Prof. Osucha is one of the curators of the English Department’s Literary Arts Live reading series, which brings poets, novelists, and creative non-fiction writers to campus to give public readings and serve as guest instructors in the department’s creative writing program. Visiting writers whose visits Professor Osucha has personally arranged include: Emily Barton, C.A. Conrad, Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Gabriel Gudding, James Hannaham, Courtney Eldridge, Samantha Hunt, Caroline Knox, Dorothea Lasky, Sarah Manguso, Ander Monson, Tessa Joseph-Nicholas, Paul LaFarge, Dinaw Mengestu, Brian Kim Stefans, Christopher Vitiello, Colson Whitehead, Dara Wier, and Magdalena Zurawski.