Salamishah Tillet is an Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization in 2007 and A.M. in English from Harvard University and her M.A.T. from Brown University. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania where she received her B.A. in English and Afro-American Studies. In 2010-11, she was the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellow for Career Enhancement and served as a visiting fellow at the Center of African American Studies at Princeton University. In 2010, she was awarded the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Her book Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (Duke University Press, 2012) examines why and how contemporary African American artists, writers, and intellectuals remember antebellum slavery within post-Civil Rights America. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Sites of Slavery argues that despite mainstream attempts to ignore the socio-economic legacies of slavery, post-Civil Rights African American artists and writers, such as Annette Gordon-Reed, Bill T. Jones, Randall Robinson, and Kara Walker, strategically re-imagine slavery to challenge the ongoing exclusion of African Americans from America’s civic myths and to model a racially democratic future.
In 2010, she co-edited the Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters Special Issue on Ethiopia and her work has appeared in Callaloo, Novel, Research in African Literatures, Savoring the Salt: The Legacy of Toni Cade Bambara, Violence in the Lives of Black Women: Battered, Black, and Blue, and Women's Review of Books. She is currently working on Nina Simone and Her Friends: The Art and Politics of Collaboration, a book that examines Simone's early artistic influences, her friendship with artists, like Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry, and Miriam Makeba, as well as her impact on contemporary writers and hip hop artists.
Salamishah has guest blogged for The Nation and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NPR and written editorials for The Chicago Tribune and Washington Post magazine, The Root.com. In 2010, she wrote the liner notes for John Legend and The Roots’ three-time Grammy award-winning album, Wake Up!. In 2011, she interviewed Gloria Steinem on the future of the feminist movement at the TedxWomen conference. She is the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, Inc., a non-profit organization that uses art therapy and the visual and the performing arts to end violence against girls and women. Her research interests include twentieth-century African-American literature, film, popular music, cultural studies, and feminist theory.
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