Phyllis Burns



Towers 330

Associate Professor

Specializations:African American Literatures, Hip Hop Culture, Black Women’s Culture Studies, and Black Radical Theory.


  • B.A., Western Michigan University, 1984
  • M.A., Western Michigan University, 1998
  • Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2006

Research, Creative, & Professional Work

  • African American Literatures
  • Hip Hop Culture
  • Black Women’s Culture Studies
  • Black Radical Theory

"[You] can starve from a lack of self realization as much as from a lack of bread." ~ Richard Wright

Senior project interests:I’m intrigued by projects that focus on literature and popular culture; literature and politics; film and television media; and studies of historical novels. I also look forward to senior projects on African American or Black Literature; dystopias; and sociopolitical commentaries framed by satire and memoir.

Recent or new topical courses:"Dystopias," "Women & Hip Hop," "Civil Rights & the Black Power Movements," “African American Satire” and “Adolescent Literature.”

Scholarship:Author of “Let’s Worry the Line: Black Radicalism and the Bourgeois Ideal” [dissertation], “Covering Condemnation for the ‘Goal of Freedom.’” (Proud Flesh: New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics & Consciousness), and “‘I’ll Be There’: The Love and Defense Narrative of Black Girl Lost” (Black Classic Press). I’ve also written on African American cinema, Kehinde Wiley, Sherley Anne Williams, Essence magazine, and the monthly column, “Krik?” (Mainstream Press: Voices of the African Diaspora).