Jennifer Christine Nash Associate Professor of African American Studies

Research Interests:

Feminist theory
Black feminisms
Race, gender, and law
Critical race theory
Black sexual politics
Intersectionality
Visual Culture

Degrees:

Ph.D. Harvard University, African-American Studies, 2009
J.D. Harvard Law School, 2004
B.A. Harvard College, Women's Studies, 2001.

Current Research:

Jennifer C. Nash is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her work focuses on black sexual politics, black feminism, and intersectionality and the debates around it. Her first book, The Black Body in Ecstasy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography (Duke University Press, 2014), sought to re-make black feminism's relationship to visual culture. The book argues that the black feminist theoretical archive -- a heterogeneous collection of scholarly texts and images – collectively presumes the meaning of the black female body in the visual field, and assumes that representation injures black women. Black feminist theory is also marked by another focus that might be understood as the flip-side of the logic of injury: a practice of visual defense and recovery. These dual logics, injury and recovery, have produced a black feminist intellectual tradition which is not simply a repository of theoretical innovation; it also enacts and enforces a view of visual culture that makes it impossible to imagine pleasure – particularly black female pleasure - from within the confines of the archive.

The Black Body in Ecstasy selects a visual site that has most troubled black feminists – racialized pornography – and uses it to unsettle the prevailing interpretative frameworks that mark black feminist theoretical engagement with representation. Drawing on feminist and queer theory, critical race theory, and media studies, the book constructs a new reading practice for analyzing racialized pornography: racial iconography. Racial iconography attends to the historical and technological contexts in which pornographic films are produced and the complex labor of spectatorship, and reads pornography not for evidence of the wounds it inflicts on black women’s flesh, but for moments of racialized excitement, instances of surprising pleasures in racialization, and hyperbolic racialized performances that poke fun at the fantastical project of race. The book was awarded the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize by the GL/Q Caucus of the Modern Language Association in 2015.

Her current book project, Black Feminism Remixed (under contract with Duke University Press), examines the racial politics of the discipline of women's studies, and focuses on the field's anxious relationship with intersectionality. Nash has held fellowships at the Columbia Society of Fellows and the WEB Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. She also received a Woodrow Wilson Junior Faculty Career Enhancement Grant.
Selected Publications:
Book

The Black Body in Ecstasy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography (Duke University Press, 2014).

Edited Book

Love: Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks in Gender Studies (New York: Macmillan, 2016).

Special Journal Issues

“Black Pleasures/Black Death,” Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black Atlantic
(forthcoming, 2018)

“Institutional Feelings: Practicing Women’s Studies in the Corporate University,” co-edited with
Emily A. Owens, Feminist Formations 27.3 (2016)

Articles

“Feminist Credentials: Notes on The Politics of Women’s Studies Graduate Certificates,” Feminist Studies (forthcoming)

“Desiring Desiree.” Porno Chic and the Sex Wars: American Sexual Representation in the 1970s, Carolyn Bronstein and Whitney Strub, eds. (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2016).

“Unwidowing: Rachel Jeantel, Black Death, and the ‘Problem’ of Black Intimacy.” Signs 41.4 (2016): 751-774.

“Feminist Originalism: Intersectionality and the Politics of Reading.” Feminist Theory 17.1 (2016): 3-20.

“Black Anality.” GLQ 20.4 (2014): 467-488.

“Institutionalizing the Margins.” Social Text 118 (2014): 45-65.

“Practicing Love: Black Feminism, Love Politics, and Post-Intersectionality.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 11.2 (2013): 1-24.

“Strange Bedfellows: Black Feminism and Anti-Pornography Feminism.” Social Text 97 (2008):
51-76.