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Scholarly Interest Report
         
Nicole Waligora-Davis
Associate Professor
Associate Professor of English
 
e-mail:Nicole.Waligora-Davis@rice.edu
 
  • B.A., summa cum laude English (1995) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
  • M.A. English (1998) Duke University, Durham, NC
  • Ph.D. English (2001) Duke University, Durham, NC
 
Primary Department
   Department of English
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Department Affiliations
 
  • Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Department of Religion
  •  
    Websites
     Department of English, Rice University
     
    Research Areas
     African American literature and expressive culture; 19th and 20th century American literature; African American and American cultural criticism; race and gender theory; law and literature; critical race studies, black internationalism; and immigration studies.
     

    N. Waligora-Davis, Statement of Research (January 2011)

     

    The double entendre belying James Baldwin’s claim that “Negroes live violent lives, unavoidably” speaks to the complex of questions cutting across the stakes of my research, teaching, advising, and professional service. My recently published book, Sanctuary: African Americans and Empire (Oxford University Press, 2011), and my monograph in progress, The Murder Book: Race, Forensics, and the Value of Black Life reflect a commitment to interdisciplinary approaches to African American and American literary studies. Sanctuary examines how American race relations influenced U.S. imperialism and black civil rights, and helped produce a black community whose alienated status resembles refugees and stateless persons. This book explores the relationship that blacks’ anomalous status has to the state’s formulation of citizenship, to the state’s relationship to other states, and to the state’s conceptualization of its imperial reach and power. To trace the sites of convergence among refugees, stateless persons, and African Americans is to begin to expose the aggressive legal and political dislocations historically confronting black Americans in a new manner. Although the distinctions among refugees, stateless persons, and African Americans are real and should not be overlooked, that these distinctions appear immaterial to, and are actively deconstructed by, the state is precisely the focus of this book. In spite of the historical and political particularity of these identities, state power circulates through these categories and to an extent depends upon a series of resonances and relays established in the period between Dred Scott and the Insular Case; it is a system that is reanimated and retransformed after this period. Attending to the interplays among these terms, I seek to retain critical pressure on the state, and on the ways in which the state relies on this very circuitry to effectively constitute these communities. Titled after police homicide ledgers, The Murder Book focuses on a critical nexus among race, forensics, criminal and tort law, visual culture and narratology, and the effects of this reticulation on black Americans. Currently underway, this manuscript traces the evidentiary protocols inflecting the presumption of innocence and guilt. The Murder Book begins at the turn-of-the-20th century, a moment marked by the expansion of increasingly probative forensic technologies, proliferating discourses on black crime, and the rise of medicojurisprudence. Leading with a study on microscopy and lynching in a piece of Dunbar’s short fiction, I demonstrate how the rise of lynching and the criminalization of the black body during the 1890s were packaged within Progressive era social politics, U.S. imperial interests, and the rise of tort law. Reading the influence of studies like Prudential Insurance Company statistician Frederick Hoffman’s Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro (1896) in producing “risk narratives” specifying blacks as liabilities to social health, the chapter that follows tracks how Hoffman’s, Charles McCord’s, and Herbert Spencer’s work further guaranteed that race would continue to wield a property value, and that courts would remain largely unwilling to equally prosecute and procure damages for black victims. Engaging Du Bois’s critique of Hoffman, his writings on crime and sociology and his response to Maurice Mays’s conviction and execution, I illustrate how this black sociologist situates the work of vital statistics in medicojurisprudence within a larger problem of evidence, archive production, nation-formation, and law that the criminalization of blacks could only help but underscore. Turning to the research materials Richard Wright collected for Native Son, specifically his news clippings on Richard Nixon’s –the “brick moron”—and Earl Hicks’s arrest and prosecution for murder and snippets saved from detective magazines, I trace how the interlarding of forensics in American popular culture, the popularity of crime scene photography, and the rise of documentary photography during the 1930s and early 1940s furthered perceptions of the diminished value of black life. Moving from the critiques on race, evidence and science funneled through the writings of Paul Dunbar, Sutton Griggs, W.E.B. Du Bois, Kelly Miller, Rudolph Fisher, and Richard Wright in the first half of the century, The Murder Book closes with two studies anchored in the post- Civil Rights era.

     
    Teaching Areas
     African American and American literature
     
    Selected Publications
     Books
     

    Waligora-Davis, N. Sanctuary: African Americans and Empire. New York and London: Oxford University Press, 2011.

     
     Editor of books
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. Ed. African American Literature in Transition, vol. 1910-1920 (London: Cambridge University Press/ in progress)

     
     Book chapters
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. ""Democracy Unfinished"." African American Literature in Transition, 1930-1940In Progress

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. ""Introduction." African American Literature in Transition, 1910-1920. Ed. Nicole A. Waligora-Davis (Cambridge University Press)." In Progress

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. "Myth of the Continents," Archipelagic American Studies, eds. Brian Russell Roberts and Michelle Smith (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, forthcoming 2016). 

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, "Ralph Ellison," In the Cambridge Companion to American Literature After 1945. Edited by John Duvall. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2011

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, "Ralph Ellison," In the Cambridge Companion to American Literature After 1945. Edited by John Duvall. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2011

     
     

    “Jagged Words: The Black Left, 1930s-1940s.” In the Cambridge History of African American Literature. Edited by Maryemma Graham and Jerry Ward, 389-427. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

     
     Book reviews
     

    Nicole A. Waligora-Davis ""'America is one island only.' A Review of Jeff Karem's The Purloined Islands: Caribbean-U.S. Crosscurrents in Literature and Culture, 1880-1959."." Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, 11 (2014) : Article 4.


    http://scholarlyrepository.miami.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1249&context=anthurium
     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. “‘America is one island only.’ A Review of Jeff Karem’s The Purloined Islands: Caribbean-U.S. Crosscurrents in Literature and Culture, 1880-1959.”  Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal (forthcoming).

     

     
    Presentations
     Conference Paper
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "A RESTING PLACE: Death, Crime, and Black Vulnerability in Ellison's Three Days Before the Shooting. . ." Modern Language Association. January 2014

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Calypso and the Caribbean: Thinking Through the Problem of Translation for Transnational American Studies." Modern Language Association. January 2014

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Myth of the Continents." American Comparative Literature Association. March 2014

     
     Invited Papers
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. “Criminal (Science)” Faculty Research Group. Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality; Rice University, November 8, 2013.

     
     Invited Talks
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. "Documenting Murder." Black America and the Police. University of Bamberg. Bamberg, Germany.

     
     

     Waligora-Davis, Nicole. “‘An Unprotected Foreigner in his own home’: African Americans and the Chicago Race Riot of 1919,” Houston Pinemont Community College, February 2013.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. “Black Practices of Everyday Life,” Women of Color in Academia, University of North Texas, October 18, 2013.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. “Ubiquity of Racism,” Women of Color in Academia, University of North Texas, October 18, 2013.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. “Black Liability: Frederick Hoffman’s Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro and the Case of Maurice Mays,” Department of English, University of Michigan, Feb. 22, 2012

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. “The Ontology of Blackness,”  Professor Perspectives. Tradition Redefined Exhibition. Rice University, September 2012.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. “To Be Black and American in the 1920s,” Humanities Texas, University of Houston, June 2012.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. “To Be Black and American in the 1920s,”  Humanities Texas Institute, Southern Methodist University, June 2012.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Graphic Inscriptions of Power: The Chicago Race Riot, 1919." Rice African American Network (RAAN). April 2010

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, "Courting Silence: Zora Neale Hurston and the Politics of African American Testimony." Northeast Pinemont LIbrary/ERC, Houston Community College. November 2009.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Courting Silence: Zora Neale Hurston and the Politics of African American Testimony." The 8th Annual Books on the Bayou Series. Houston Public Library, October 2009.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Liberia and its American Genealogy." Rice University Faculty Women's Club, September 2009. 

     
     Lectures
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Preparing for Graduate Studies." Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, October 2010.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Re-Envisioning the World: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Fourth Dimension," Rice University Civic Humanist Series, Eastwood Academy High School, September 2010.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Re-Envisioning the World: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Fourth Dimension." Rice University Civic Humanist Series, Stephen F. Austtin High School, October 2010.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Preparing for Graduate Studies," Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, March 9, 2010.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Re-Envisioning the World: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Fourth Dimension," Rice University Civic Humanist Series. Carneige Vanguard HIgh School, October 2009.

     
     Other
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. “Promiscuous Circulation: Turner’s The Slave Ship and its Legacies” Respondent.  Global Modernities: Keywords and Methods (May 2012) Rice University

     

     
     Panelist
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Black Culture and Aesthetics” Panel, 50th Anniversary of African and African American Studies, Duke University, October 2013.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Showboat." Panelist. Symposium. Houston Grand Opera, January 2013

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Choosing a Relevant Research Topic." Panelist. SUCEED! WORKSHOP SERIES. Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Rice University. October 2013.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "An Image for our Times? Race, Poverty and the Long Depression," African Diaspora: BIennial Symposiums. Issues in Critical Investigation (Sept. 2011).

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Wanting to know a stranger," Biennial Conference of teh Southern American Studies Association (Feburary 2011).

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. “Figurations on the Human: The ethic of relation in Toni Morrison’s writings,” Biennial Conference for the Toni Morrison Society, Paris, France. November 2010.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "African Americans and the Global Campain for Human Rights." The Collegium for African American Research, Bremen, Germany. March 2009.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, Nicole. "Uniquely Human." Vulnerability Symposium. Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality. Rice University, October 2009.

     
     

    Waligora-Davis, "Vital Statistics: Criminal Discourses and W.E.B. Du Bois." Annual Meeting, American Studies Association, October 2008.

     
     

    Conference Presenter.  ""Vital Statistics: Criminal Discourses and W.E.B. Du Bois"." American Studies Association, (October 15-19, 2008)

     
     

    Conference Presenter.  "African Americans and the Global Campaign for Human Rights." Collegium for African American Research, Bremen, Germany. (3/25-3/29)

     
    Supervised Theses & Dissertations
     Amanda Branker-Ellis, PhD “Detrás de Cada Letra: Trauma and Healing in Chicana/o Literature”. (2015) (Thesis Committee Member)

     AnaMaria Seglie, PhD “Sacred Dominion: Anti-Catholicism and the Romance of U.S. Imperialism, 1828-1890” . (2015) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Karen Rosenthall, PhD “Accounts of Exceptionalism: The Overlooked Narratives of American Antebellum Economics. (2015) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Macellaro Kimberly, PhD “Reification, Race, and Coloniality: Historical Materialist Readings of Early and Mid Twentieth Century Masculinity” . (2015) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Meina Yates-Richards, PhD “Echoes of the Future-Past: Slavery and Sonic Testimony in African American and Diasporic Literature 1845-Present” . (2016) (Thesis Director)

     Brittany Henry, PhD “Decolonizing Dystopia: Coloniality and the Critical Dystopia in Contemporary American Literature”. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Darrius Hill, PhD “Toward a Theory of Reciprocity: Constructing a Hermeneutic of Relationality For Black Theological Discourse.” . (Thesis Committee Member)

     Whitney Stewart, PhD "The Politics of Black Womanhood in the Nineteenth Century" . (Thesis Committee Member)

     Joseph Carson, PhD Savage Arcadia: The American Romance in the Anthropocene. (Thesis Committee Member)

     Elena Valdez, PhD "Folkloric Difference and Chicana/o Literature". (Thesis Committee Member)