About Sean


As of January 2017, I am honored and excited to say that I have accepted an appointment as Assistant Professor of English at Hostos Community College, CUNY, located in the South Bronx.

On February 1, 2017 I received my Ph.D. from the English department at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. I also earned a Certificate in American Studies. Previously, I have received my M.A. and M.Phil. in English from the Graduate Center and a B.A. in English from Lafayette College. In the Fall of 2016, I was a Fellow-in-Residence at the Mellon Committee on Globalization and Social Change at the Graduate Center. Previously, I was a 2015-16 IRADAC (Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean) Fellow at the Graduate Center and a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Fellow at Hostos Community College, CUNY, a position held from 2014-2016. I have been a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the College of Staten Island, CUNY and an Adjunct Lecturer at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, where I have taught courses in both composition and literature from the pre-1865 and post-1865 periods, both American and British. Broadly, my research and teaching interests are in US literatures of the long nineteenth century, with an emphasis on the pre-Civil War period. I study the intersections of race, slavery, resistance, freedom, and textuality in the United States and the Atlantic world.

My dissertation examines a counter-archive of pre-Civil War US literature that imagines marronage as offering alternate spaces of freedom, refuge, and autonomy outside the unidirectional South-to-North geographical trajectory of the Underground Railroad, which has often framed the story of freedom and unfreedom for African Americans in pre-1865 US cultural studies. I argue that literary representations of marronage respond to the legislatively enforced political geography of slavery as a national institution after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 and, subsequently, the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, the Dred Scott decision in 1857, and the upholding of the Fugitive Slave Law’s constitutionality in 1859. Through maroons and marronage we can locate alternate spaces of fugitive freedom within slaveholding territory, thereby contesting fixed notions of the sectional geography of freedom and unfreedom in the antebellum United States and expanding the geospatial imaginary through which we interpret the complexities of early African American literature and life. My dissertation supervisor is Professor Eric Lott, and Professors Duncan Faherty and Robert Reid-Pharr are the members of my dissertation committee.

My dissertation research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the English Department at the Graduate Center (the Morton Cohen Dissertation Year Travel Award); the Advanced Research Collaborative; the Doctoral Students’ Research Grant Program; IRADAC (the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean); a highly competitive Graduate Center Dissertation Fellowship; travel grants from the Modern Language Association, Society for the Study of American Women Writers, Northeast MLA, South Central MLA, and the Presidential Research Fund at the Graduate Center; and a Lillian Gary Taylor Fellowship in American Literature at the University of Virginia. This past June, I spent a week at the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) on an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship to perform research for my dissertation in their wonderful historical collections.

CONTACT: sgerrity@hostos.cuny.edu

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