Assistant Professor of English and African American & Black Diaspora Studies

Ianna Hawkins Owen (pronunciation) is an assistant professor of English with a joint appointment in African American and Black Diaspora Studies. Owen’s first book project, Ordinary Failure: Diaspora’s Limits and Longings (under contract with Duke), offers new theorizations of the keyword “diaspora.” Owen’s second book project, This Time Without Feeling: Reading Black Asexual Affects, received a 2022 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award. Previous work appears in Social Text, Feminist Review, Asexuality: Feminist and Queer Perspectives, Radical Teacher, and more.

Owen is currently a Jasper and Marion Whiting fellow and a senior fellow at the independent Center for Black, Brown, and Queer Studies; previously Owen held fellowships with the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation [now the Institute for Citizens & Scholars] and is an alum of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. He served as a co-chair of the Asexuality Studies Interest Group of the National Women’s Studies Association and as an intern at the Audre Lorde Project in Brooklyn.

With Kianna Middleton (Dartmouth) and Tala Khanmalek (CSU Fullerton), Owen co-organized “Then You Don’t Want Me”: Canonizing Gayl Jones, a three-day virtual symposium dedicated to the author’s work. Owen now organizes “Communion” with Max Bearinger, a seasonal virtual gathering featuring invited academics, artists, and other community speakers on queer/trans memorial and mourning practices. Owen is also collaborating with art twink and Ananth Shastri on a browser-based indie game called write back soon. His first indie game, Gulls of Bangor, was dubbed a “melancholic” and “existentialist” two-minute text adventure by reviewers.

Course Offerings

  • Contemporary Work in Black Literary and Visual Culture
  • Critical Studies: Black Diaspora Theory and Practice
  • Critical Studies in Asexualities
  • Direct Action and African American Literature
  • Gender and Sexuality in the Neo-slave Narrative
  • Write Back Soon: Blackness and the Prison
  • As If Her Mouth Were A Weapon: Jamaica Kincaid (past)
  • Negative Affects in African American Literature (past)

Selected publications

“More: Cake, Feedism, and Asexuality,” Social Text, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 93-111. 2022

“It Me: Annotation and Restraint,” Post45: Contemporaries Series,  2019.

“Still, Nothing: Notes on Mammy and Black Asexual Possibility,” Feminist Review, vol. 120, no. 1, pp. 70-84. (2018)

“On the Racialization of Asexuality,” Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives, eds. M. Milks and KJ Cerankowski (New York: Routledge, 2014) pp. 119-135.

“Write Back Soon: Mass Incarceration and “Writing Intensive” Vulnerability,” Radical Teacher, vol. 115, special issue on Anti-Oppressive Composition Strategies. Reprinted in Public Seminar. (2019)

“When All Lives Matter,”, 2014.

“Creating Outside Agitators” by Puck Lo and Ianna Hawkins Owen, 2010.

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