Skip to main content

Jennifer Christine Nash

ON LEAVE FOR 2019-20; Associate Professor of African American Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies

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

Research Interests:

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


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. 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. The book was awarded the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize by the GL/Q Caucus of the Modern Language Association in 2015.

Her second book, Black Feminism Reimagined (Duke University Press, 2019), rewrites black feminist theory’s engagement with intersectionality, an innovation that is often celebrated as black feminism’s primary intellectual and political contribution to feminist theory and related fields. The book’s analysis focuses on intersectionality’s lives in the US university, arguing that intersectionality has become women’s studies’ primary program-building initiative, its institutional and ethical orientation, even as academic feminism retains an ambivalent relationship with the analytic, always imagining it as both promising and dangerous. As intersectionality has come to occupy the center of women’s studies and to migrate across disciplinary boundaries, black feminists have developed a defensive stance toward intersectionality, one marked by proprietary attachments to the analytic. These defensive attachments conscript black feminism into a largely protective posture, leaving black feminists mired in policing intersectionality’s usages, demanding that intersectionality stay located within black feminism, and reasserting intersectionality’s “true” origins in black feminist texts. In place of this defensive posture, one that conscripts black feminists into the intersectionality wars, rather than allowing black feminist theorists to reimagine the very conversation around black feminist intellectual production, the book advocates practices of letting go. Letting go offers new black feminist ways of engaging with intersectionality that enable black feminists to feel otherwise, to unleash black feminist theory’s visionary, world-making possibilities.

Nash is currently working on a new project on the politics of black motherhood. She 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:


Black Feminism Reimagined (Duke University Press, 2019).

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)

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

Selected Articles:

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

“Intersectionality and its Discontents,” American Quarterly 69.1 (2017): 117-129.

“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.


Back to top