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Arlene R. Keizer, Ph.D.

Professor and Sketch Model Creative-in-Reference Arlene R. Keizer

Sketch Model Creative-in-Reference and Visiting Professor



PhD, UC-Berkeley
MA, Stanford University
BA, Princeton University

Select Courses Taught

Weaving the Future: New Ideologies of Making


re-imagining the humanities, critical theory, feminist theory, critical race and ethnic studies, speculative histories, literature and material culture in diaspora.


Taconic Fellowship, Pratt Center for Community Development, for “Migration Stories in Multiple Media.” Workshops co-created with an artist/architect and offered through the Brooklyn Public Library, to assist students in writing, illustrating, and representing through objects and photos their narratives of immigration, 2019-20

Postdoctoral Fellow with the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis (MIP), 2006-07

Edith Goldthwaite Miller Faculty Fellow at the Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women (Pembroke Seminar), Brown University, 2005-06

Stephen and Mary Meadow Faculty Award (research funding), University of Michigan, 2002-2007

A. Bartlett Giamatti Faculty Fellow, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, 2000-2001 (year-long research fellowship)

Seed Grant from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG), University of Michigan, 1999-2000

Career Development Award for Women Faculty, University of Michigan, 1999

American Association of University Women (AAUW) Dissertation Fellowship, American Fellowships Program, 1995-96

Residence at Cottages at Hedgebrook (a retreat for women writers), Fall 1993

Princeton University Page Prize for Creative Theses, 1986

Academy of American Poets Prize, Princeton University, 1986


Arlene Keizer is a scholar, writer, and teacher whose work focuses primarily on African Diaspora literature and culture, engaging critical theory, feminist theory—especially black feminist theory—and psychoanalysis. The author of the monograph Black Subjects: Identity Formation in the Contemporary Narrative of Slavery, she has also published articles and essays in a range of professional and popular journals. Keizer holds a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University. Her publications also include poetry, film reviews, and experimental criticism. Most recently, she served as Chairperson of the Department of Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute from 2017-2020.

Through 25 years of university teaching, mentoring, and administrative work, Keizer has developed courses and programs focused on literature, visual and material culture, and social justice. She has created and taught undergraduate and graduate classes on global narratives of liberation, on African American writers’ use of the personal essay as a practice of freedom, and on the intersections between critical race theory, literature, and visual culture.

As a faculty member at Brown University, Keizer served on the Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, whose report on Brown’s historical complicity with American slavery won the Community and Justice Award from Rhode Island for Community & Justice (RICJ). Her other extracurricular labor for the universities where she has worked includes serving as an equity advisor to the School of the Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. There she also co-created, with colleagues in the UCI Law School, a year-long series of events on the long aftermath of the Scottsboro case in literature, visual culture, global activism, and the law. At Olin, she’ll teach and create programs around the theme of “Weaving the Future: New Ideologies of Making.” 

Select Publications

Black Gallery: Poems—forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press
The Body of This Life: Kara Walker’s Art and the Black Postmodern—monograph, under contract with Northwestern University Press
New Black Feminist Criticism, 1985-2000, Barbara Christian. Co-edited with Gloria Bowles and M. Giulia Fabi. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2007.
Black Subjects: Identity Formation in the Contemporary Narrative of Slavery. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004.
“What Will the Art of Freedom Look Like?: Casey Ruble’s ‘Deformation of Mastery’.” Essay for Red Summer, Artist’s Book by Casey Ruble [Edition of 100], Conveyor Editions, 2019.
“Collateral Survivorship.” Radical Teacher 114—Radical Teaching Then and Now (Summer 2019): 48-50.
“The Bone Alphabet: A ‘First Reading’ of M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! #6.” Jacket2 (February 2014).
“‘Obsidian Mine’: The Psychic Aftermath of Slavery.” Samuel R. Delany special issue of American Literary History 24.4 (October 2012): 686-701.
“Incidents in the Lives of Two Postmodern Black Feminists: An Interview with Harryette Mullen.” Postmodern Culture 22.1: n.p.
“‘Our Posteriors, Our Posterity’: The Problem of Embodiment in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Venus and Kara Walker’s Camptown Ladies.” ‘Scripted Bodies’ special issue of Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies 37.2 (October 2011): 200-212.
“Gone Astray in the Flesh: Kara Walker, Black Women Writers, and African American Postmemory.” PMLA 123.5 (October 2008): 1649-72.