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(Photo by Eamon Queeney for The Washington Post)

Contact Information

Greenlaw Hall 227, CB #3520
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3520
(919) 962-4062


Ph.D. English and African American Studies, University of Michigan, 1992.
A.B. English and African American Studies, Princeton University, 1986.

Research Interests

Sharon P. Holland is a graduate of Princeton University (1986) and holds a PhD in English and African American Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1992). She is the author of RAISING THE DEAD: READINGS OF DEATH AND (BLACK) SUBJECTIVITY (Duke UP, 2000), which won the Lora Romero First Book Prize from the American Studies Association (ASA) in 2002. She is also co-author of a collection of trans-Atlantic Afro-Native criticism with Professor Tiya Miles (American Culture, UM, Ann Arbor) entitled Crossing Waters/ Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country (Duke University Press, 2006). Professor Holland is also responsible for bringing a feminist classic, THE QUEEN IS IN THE GARBAGE by Lila Karp to the attention of The Feminist Press (Summer 2007) for publication (2007). She is the author of The Erotic Life of Racism (Duke University Press, 2012), a theoretical project that explores the intersection of Critical Race, Feminist, and Queer Theory. She is also at work on the final draft of another book project entitled simply, “little black girl.” You can see her work on food, writing and all things equestrian on her blog,

I am currently working on a book project entitled “Perishment,” a theoretical study that takes German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s notion that humans “die” while animals “perish,” and reads across the theoretical spectrum of works on the human/animal distinction in order to arrive at a fundamental question: what is the relationship of “blackness” to discourse on the animal? Do black humans “die” or do we “perish”? The prevailing thought in the field of African Americanist scholarship is that “blackness” – through Martin Heidegger and Frantz Fanon in particular – is related to “thingness,” rather than animality. This theoretical project re-thinks that interpretive paradigm. I am particularly invested in how movement away from “the animal,” writ large in the Cartesian framework, does not allow for much discussion of an ethical commitment (Emanuel Levinas) to the animal within African Americanist discourse. My intention is to provide both a critique of the present condition in critical discourse on blackness (especially its gendered assumptions) and a model for how to begin such a conversation within the theoretical language available to us on the human/animal divide.

In addition to my two book projects, I am also co-editing a special double issue (20.4 and 21.1) of GLQ (Gay and Lesbian Quarterly) with Kyla Tompkins (Pomona) and Marcia Ochoa (UC-Santa Cruz), entitled, “On the Visceral.”

My work is grounded in the 20th century and encompasses multiple intersections. My main areas of concentration are feminist, queer and critical race theory. I have also published in the field of Afro-Native studies. I have recently been appointed editor of SLJ (Southern Literary Journal) and am tasked with moving it from English and Comparative Literature at UNC to the American Studies Department. This presents a unique opportunity to expand the journal’s scope to interdisciplinary work in the field of Southern Studies, broadly defined. You can access Dr. Holland’s full CV here.

Courses Taught

AMST 101: The Emergence of Modern America
AMST 201: On the Question of the Animal: Literary Approaches to American Studies
AMST/FOLK 375: Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats
AMST 390: Seminar in American Studies
AMST 498: Theory and American Studies