Areas of Research
Caribbean and Caribbean Diaspora Literature, especially 20th- and 21st-century women’s writing, African American Literature, and Children’s and Young Adult Literature, particularly representations of race and gender in narratives for young people.
The Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampires in Literature of the Circum-Caribbean and African Diaspora (Rutgers Univ. Press, 2015).
Bringing Light to Twilight: Perspectives on a Pop Culture Phenomenon (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
Reading Harry Potter Again: New Critical Essays (Praeger/Greenwood Press, 2009)
Reading Harry Potter: Critical Essays (Praeger/Greenwood Press, 2003)
SELECTED JOURNAL ARTICLES and BOOK CHAPTERS:
“Maternal Discourses in Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber,” African American Review Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring 2006): 111-24.
“A Feminist Reading of Soucouyants in Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring and Skin Folk,” Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature. Vol. 37, No. 3 (September 2004): 33-50.
“‘I Going Away, I Going Home’: Mothers and Motherlands in Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl,Brownstones.” Mango Season: Caribbean Women’s Writing. 13:1 (Spring 2000). 43-53.
“Transforming the Skin-Shedding Soucouyant: Using Folklore to Reclaim Female Agency in Caribbean Literature.” Small Axe 7 (March 2000). 44-59.
“African-American Children’s and Young Adult Literature.” Cambridge History of African American Literature. Eds. Jerry Ward and Maryemma Graham.
“Langston Hughes and the Children’s Literary Tradition.” Montage of a Dream: The Art and Life of Langston Hughes. Eds John E. Tidwell & Cheryl Ragar. Columbia: U. of MO Press, 2007. 237-58.
“‘Passing/Out’ in the Classroom: Eradicating Binaries of Identity.” Women Faculty of Color in the White College Classroom. Ed. Lucila Vargas. New York: Peter Lang, 2002. 55-72.
When I was a child, my mother, aunts and uncles, and grandmother regaled me with stories of the soucouyant, a demonic figure from Trinidadian folk culture. The soucouyant appeared to be a withered old woman during the day, but at night she peeled off her skin, transformed into a ball of fire, and flew from house to house, where she sucked the blood or life essence of her unsuspecting neighbors. My recent book—The Things That Fly in the Night—explores representations of vampirism in African diasporic folk traditions and contemporary literature, especially the recent proliferation of narratives among writers of African descent (such as Edwidge Danticat, Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, David Chariandy, Toni Morrison, and others) who take up the monstrous character and reconfigure it to urge for female mobility, racial, cultural, and sexual empowerment, and/or anti-colonial resistance.