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Tracy Vaughn-Manley

Assistant Professor of African American Studies; Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of African American Studies; Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Professor of Instruction

Ph.D., English, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research Interests:

African American writers and literature of the Harlem Renaissance
African American Quilting
Quilting and African American women writers
The phenomenon of passing and the performance of identity in 20th-century African American literature
Toni Morrison
"blackness" as it is imagined by White American writers

Academic Year 2018-19 Courses:

AF_AM_ST 101 First-Year Seminar: Passing and the Performance of Identity in American Literature
AF_AM_ST 211: Literatures of the Black World
AF_AM_ST 331: Major Authors: Toni Morrison
AF_AM_ST 390 Research in African American Studies
AF_AM-ST 420 Expressive Arts and Cultural Studies

Current Research:

My current research examines the specific ways in which the distinctive aspects that define the Black Aesthetic quilting tradition: the assertion of individual and collective agency; the narrative aspects and the social and historical significance of quilts, make them and the process of quilting a convenient trope for many Black women writers—novelists Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Terri McMillian; poets Nikki Giovanni and Lucille Clifton and playwright Lynn Nottage specifically. These authors consider the connections between quilts, gender, race, culture and identity as well as the intersections between literature, history, and material culture to explore the interiority of Black life—specifically the lives of Black American women. Furthermore, by employing the quilt and the tradition of quilt-making as metaphors for history, community and legacy, these authors are situating the production and preservation of American folk culture squarely in the hands of Black women. This project will enable me to expand upon my previous comparative analysis work on quilting and Black women painters. 

Recent Awards:

Charles Deering McCormick Award for Teaching Excellence, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 2017-20.

Best Liberal Arts Professor Award, Northwestern University-Qatar Student Government, 2012-13

Associate Student Government Faculty Honor Roll Award, Northwestern University, 2006-2008, 2010, 2011

Teaching Award: Outstanding Performance in the Classroom, Department of African American Studies, Northwestern University, 2006

Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll Award, Northwestern University, 2006

Recent Publications/Exhibitions:

“Painting and Piecing: A Legacy of Resilience in the Work of Mary Frances Robinson,” International Review of African American Art, Vol. 27 No. 1 (Jan 2017): 61-63.

“For My Dear Professor Skerrett.” Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, 39.1 (Winter 2016): 10-11.

Radiant Compositions: The Quilt Artistry of Dr. Tracy L. Vaughn
(first international exhibit)
Hamad Bin Khalifa University Art Gallery
Doha, Qatar (October 9-November 3, 2011)

AfriCOBRA and the Chicago Black Arts Movement, Curator
Dittmar Memorial Gallery
Northwestern University (February-March 2010)

Black Threads Collective: Quilt Explosion!
Skokie Public Library (February 2-March 5, 2008)

Utilitarian Beauty: Reconstructing An African American Tradition
Dittmar Memorial Gallery
Northwestern University (January 8-February 10, 2008)

Artist Behind the Desk Art Exhibition
Women's Center
Northwestern University (May 2007)

Black Threads Collective: Quilt Explosion!
Carter G. Woodson Regional Public Library
(September 1-December 31, 2006)

"Stitched in Tradition: The Trope of Quilting in the Novels of Toni Morrison."
(article forthcoming)

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