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Melanie Abeygunawardana

2022 Ph.D. Graduate
Dissertation Advisor(s): David L. Eng
"Dissenting Flesh: Racial Feeling in an Age of Colorblindness"

Assistant Professor of American Studies, University of Minnesota


Melanie Abeygunawardana is the Shauna M. Stark Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University’s Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. In the fall of 2023, she will begin an appointment as an Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2022 with a certificate in Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies. At Penn, Melanie served as a coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Studies Reading Group from 2017-2019. Her research focuses on contemporary Asian American and African American literature, critical race theory, and affect studies. Her book manuscript, “Dissenting Flesh: Racial Feeling in an Age of Colorblindness,” examines how Asian American and African American writers in the post-Civil Rights era challenge the enduring legal fiction of colorblindness, which has always relied on pitting Black and Asian people against each other. These writers not only critique colorblindness’s failures to remediate structural racism, but also reveal the disavowed fantasies of raced and gendered materiality—of an overly enfleshed Blackness and a synthetic, artificial Asianness—that secure the formally race-free subject of the law. In contrast to liberal abstraction, these authors find literary and affective strategies that spotlight materiality as a site of both racial dispossession and racial resistance. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Representations, The Routledge Companion to Queer Literary Studies, and n+1.  


Articles and Book Chapters

Courses Taught

fall 2019

ENGL 200.301 Race and Dystopian Fiction  

fall 2017