Monica L. Miller headshot

Monica L. Miller

Ann Whitney Olin Professor of English and Africana Studies

Department

Africana Studies, English

Office

214 Barnard Hall
On leave 2022-23

Contact

Monica L. Miller, Professor of English and Africana Studies, joined the faculty of Barnard in 2001.

Professor Miller specializes in African-American and American literature and cultural studies. Her research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century African-American literature, film, and contemporary art; contemporary literature and cultural studies of the black diaspora; performance studies; and intersectional studies of race, gender, and sexuality. 

Her book, Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity, was published by Duke University Press in 2009.  It  received the 2010 William Sanders Scarborough Prize for the best book in African American literature and culture from the Modern Language Association; it was shortlisted for the 2010 Modernist Studies Association book prize.  

Professor Miller is the recipient of grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2012, 2001), the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (2004), and Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (2004). She served as a Term Fellow at Institute for Research in African American Studies, Columbia University (2011-13).  She was the recipient of the Gladys Brooks Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, Barnard College (2008).

She is currently at work on Blackness, Swedish Style: Figuring Blackness in a Place without Race, which is a multi-genre investigation of multiculturalism, integration, and Afro-Swedishness in relation to Black European Studies and theories of diaspora and diasporic belonging.  Documenting and theorizing the emergence of “blackness” in a place that has no obvious or well-developed colonial or imperial history, Blackness Swedish Style thinks differently about “diaspora” and the identities that emerge from it.  Investigating connections and disconnections between Europe, Sweden and its African Diaspora, as well as among AfroSwedes themselves, this book is a diverse volume consisting of theory, ethnography, memoir, (oral) history, and contemporary cultural criticism. 

  • Ph.D., Harvard University
  • B.A., Dartmouth College

  • African-American literature and cultural studies
  • Black diaspora; Black European Studies
  • Race, gender, sexuality

  • Black European Cultural Studies (Africana Studies Colloquium)
  • Black Lit Now (Senior Seminar, English Department)
  • Home to Harlem (Seminar, Harlem Semester)

“An echo or a shadow”: Johannes Anyuru’s De kommer att drunkna i sina mödrars tårar(2017/2021). Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies (SASS). Rio Mar, Puerto Rico. April 2022.

 “On paper, we are parentheses into which someone else has placed us’: Black Swedish Memoir and the Rhizomatics of Race.” Sketches of Black Europe: Imagining Europe/ans in African and African Diasporic Narratives. Blankensee Colloquium, Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur-und Kulturforschung. Berlin, Germany. March 2022.

“Slaves to Fashion: A Cultural History of Black Dandyism.” National Arts Club. New York, NY.  January 2021.

“Rhizomatic Forms and Global Black Aesthetics.” Bard Graduate Center Seminar in Art and Material Culture of Africa and the African Diaspora. November 2021.

“Debating the Black Body in Fashion & Popular Culture: Panel II: The “Aesthetics of Excess” and Respectability Politics.” UCLA African American Studies, Black Dress & Culture Series. November 2021.

“ 'Black is black not blue or purple/being black is like a circle': Geometries of Black Swedish Identity." Keynote lecture, ASTRA (Association of Swedish Teacher of America). University of Wisconsin, Madison, Department of German, Slavic, and Nordic Studies, October 2021.

 “On paper, we are parentheses into which someone else has placed us’: Black Swedish Childhood and Performances of Race.” Plenary lecture and seminar. Mellon School of Theater and Performance. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. June 2021.

“Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon.” Reading Toni Morrison. 92nd Street Y. April 2021.

"Luxury Slaves, Negro Governors, and Jim Crow: Black Dandy Beginnings.” Invisible Makers: Textiles, Dress, and Marginalized People in 18th- and 19th-Century America. Invited Plenary Lecture. Historic Deerfield.  Deerfield, MA. April 2021.

“Black Swedish Childhood and the Racial Logics of Belonging.” Modern Language Association. Toronto, CA. CLCS Nordic Forum, panel on "Contested Decolonizations." January 2021.

“Can You Feel It? Looking for Langston at 30: A Meditation.” Looking for Langston at 30: A Film Screening and Roundtable Celebrating Queer Harlem in Support of Harlem Renaissance at 100. Columbia University. New York, NY. December 2020.

“To Be Young, Black, Feminist, and Online: Angry Girls/Black Women 24/7.” 7th Annual Biennial AfroEuropean Studies Conference: Black Invisibilities Contested. ISCT-ICL Lisbon, Portugal. Co-organizer, with Nana Osei-Kofi of panel, “Black Europe at Its Intersections: Whose Black Europe?” July 2019. 

“A Raisin in the Midnight Sun.” Colloquium on African American Studies.  Invited lecture in Department of African American and African Diasporic Studies and Institute of European Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA. February 2019.

“A Raisin in the Midnight Sun.” Invited talk at Breaking Boundaries, Created Spaces Conference: Departments of African American Studies and Performing Arts, Georgetown University. Washington, DC. January 2019.

“Waterworks Conversation Series: Jason ‘Timbuktu’ Diakité.” Harlem Stage. New York, NY. November 2019.

“Pink in African American Music and Culture: How a Color Transcended Gender, Sexuality, and Generations One Hue at a Time” with Elena Romero.  Invited conversation. PINK: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color Symposium.  Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY. October 2018.

“Serving ‘AfroScandinavian Fresh’: Krull Magazine and the Emergence of Black Swedish Style.” Invited talk. Performing Minoritarian and Queer Fashion: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. James Gallery, CUNY Grad Center, New York, NY. May 2018.

Serving ‘AfroScandinavian Fresh’: Krull Magazine and the Emergence of Black Swedish Style.” Panel on Global Fashion. Modern Language Association.  New York, NY. January 2018.

“A Raisin in the Midnight Sun.” Rethinking Lorraine Hansberry: New Work on her Writing and Legacy in the 21st Century. American Studies Association. Chicago, IL. November 2017.

“ 'Vikings and Congo Drums’: AfroSwedish Identity and Lorraine Hansberry's Raisin in the Sun in Sweden.”  Diistinguished Lecture in History and Literature, 2017.  Harvard University, History & Literature Program.  November 2017.

“ 'Serving ‘AfroScandinavian Fresh’: Krull Magazine and the Emergence of Black Swedish Style.” Exploring Beauty and Truth in Worlds of Color: A Conference on Race and Aesthetics in the 21st Century (American Aesthetics Association).  Oberlin, OH.  September 2017.

“Or Does it Explode?”: En druva i solen, Vikings and Congo Drums.”  6th AfroEuropean Conference, Tampere, Finland.  Co-organizer of panel on AfroSwedish Culture, Performance and Media. July 2017.

“Fashioning the Black Body in Bondage and Freedom.” Plenary Talk. “Fashioning the Black Body in Bondage and Freedom” Conference, Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn, New York. March 2017.

“Patrick Kelly.” Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), New York, NY. Conversation with Eric Darnell Pritchard. Black Fashion Designers Symposium. February 2017.

“African Americans in Europe: Performance, Politics and Fashion.” Panel Chair and Respondent. MLA Annual Convention, Philadelphia. January 2017.

 

Publications

Slaves to Fashion: The Black Dandy and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity. Durham: Duke University Press, (2009).  2nd printing, September 2010.

Winner of the 2010 William Sanders Scarborough Prize for the best book in African American literature and culture, Modern Language Association.

Shortlist, 2010 Modernist Studies Association Book Prize.

Reviews: San Francisco Bay Guardian, November 8, 2009; Callaloo 33 (4) 2010; MELUS 35 (4) 2010; Comparative Literature 62 (4) 2010; Modern Fiction Studies 57 (1); GLQ 17 (2-3) 2011; Theatre Journal63(2) (2011); Clio 40 (3) (2011); Amerikastudien/American Studies (Winter 2011); TDR (The Drama Review) 57:1 (T217) Spring 2013.

“Race, Melancholia, Midsommar.” Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, ed. Aviva Briefel (forthcoming, late 2022).

“Asynchronous: Black Time.” Theory & Event, Keywords for 2020 Symposium. Eds. Sarah Haley and Samantha Pinto (25: 1, January 2022): 134-139.

“Introduction: (Re): Zora Neale Hurston, Now and Again.” Undiminished Blackness: Zora Neale Hurston as Theory and Practice. The Scholar & Feminist Online, 16:2 (2020). Eds. Monica L. Miller and Tami Navarro.

“The Grain of her Voice: Nina Simone, Josette Bushell Mingo and Intersections between Art, Politics, and Race, with Anna Adeniji, Barbara Asante, and Anna Lundberg.PARSE, special issue on Intersectional Engagement in Politics and Arts (11, Summer 2020).

“On Having Your Cake and Eating It Too: Black (Diasporic/Nordic) Arts,” Social Text: Periscope ‘Shady Convivialities’ on Tavia N’yongo’s Afrofabulations (January 28, 2020).

“Figuring Blackness in a Place Without Race: Sweden, Recently.” ELH (English Literary History) 84:2 (2017): 377-97.  

 “Black, Queer, Dandy: ‘the Beauty Without Whom We Cannot Seem to Live’.” NKA: A Journal of Contemporary African Art 38-39 (Fall 2016): 32-39. (special issue on Black Portraiture).

“Introduction: Singing a Black Girl’s Song at Barnard and Beyond,” with Kim F. Hall. Ntozake Shangedouble issue of The Scholar and Feminist Online, 12.3-13.1 (Summer/Fall 2014). Eds. Kim F. Hall, Monica L. Miller, and  Yvette Christianse. 

 “Taking the Temperature of True North.”  Gender on IceThe Scholar and Feminist Online, 7.1 (Fall 2008).  Eds. Lisa Bloom, Elena Glasberg, and Laura Kay. (refereed online journal)

“Introduction: Zoramania.” Jumpin’ at the Sun: Reassessing the Life and Work of Zora Neale HurstonThe Scholar and Feminist Online, 3.2 (Winter 2005). Ed. Monica L. Miller. (refereed online journal)

 “W.E.B. Du Bois and the Dandy as Diasporic Race Man.” Callaloo special issue on Black Literary Masculinities 26 (3) (Summer 2003) 738-765.

“Pantomime: Global Modernism’s Harlequinade.” A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism. Eds. Rebecca Walkowitz and Eric Hayot. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016: 169-184.

“August 11, 1955: ‘The Whole Matter Revolves Around Self-Respect for my People,’ Zora Neale Hurston Denounces the Brown vs. Board Supreme Court Decision on Segregation.” The New Literary History of America.  Eds. Werner Sollors and Greil Marcus. Harvard University Press, 2009. 852-856.

“The Black Dandy as Bad Modernist.” Bad Modernisms. Eds. Rebecca Walkowitz and Douglas Mao.  Durham: Duke University Press, December 2005. 179-205.

“Theaster Gates’ Dandy Potter.” Theaster Gates (London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2022).

“Once Upon a Time in Nigeria…” (On Orange Culture). Africa Fashion (London: V&A Museum, 2022).

“Come Through, Ms. Turner…Come Through,” Amongst Friends: Photographs of Lana Turner by Dario Calmese, (St. Louis, MO: projects + gallery, 2018) n.p. Mentioned in Vogue, February 16, 2018. 

“ ‘Joy, Creation, Being’: On Dandy Lion (Re) Articulating Black Masculinity,” Photoworks  Annual/Brighton Photo Biennale 23: Self-Styled (Brighton, UK: Photoworks, 2016): 72-81.

“An Interview with Iké Udé: Mining the Opposition…is my Great Refusal,” Iké Udé: Style and Sympathies: New Photographic Works (New York: Leila Heller Gallery, 2013) n.p.

“Fresh-Dressed Like a Million Bucks’: Hip Hop Dandyism” in Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion exhibition catalog, Rhode Island School of Design Museum.  New Haven: Yale University Press (2013). Exhibition and catalog review in Slate.

“Fix up, Look Smart” in Black Gossamer exhibition catalog.  Columbia College Chicago, Glass Curtain Gallery, November 2011.

“Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial” in Artforum Fall 2010 (short exhibition preview).

Dressed Like Kings.” Interview for documentary film on global black dandyism and Swenka dress culture in South Africa.  Director: Stacey Holman. Spring 2016. Aired on PBS World Channel: Afropop Short Films, February 2019.

“Black Dandyism: A Cultural History.”  Dressed: The History of Fashion Podcast. Hosts: April Calahan and Cassidy Zachary. Two episodes. December 2018; rebroadcast June 2020.

"Svart identitet får ny form i Sverige” (Black identity is taking a new form in Sweden). Intervju med Monica Miller av Magdalena Bowman. Scen & film 5 (2018): 14-16.

“Black People and the Beauty of Summer Linen” by Tahirah Hairston. Interview. Lenny Letter, July 27, 2018.

“Break This Down: Zora Neale Hurston’s BarracoonBarnard Magazine, Spring 2018.

Pathways to Passion: Monica L. Miller.” Interview for Barnard College series on professors and their lives/work. April 2015.

Black Dandy: A Political Beauty.”  Interview for CANAL+/French documentary on global black dandyism.  Dir. Laurent Lunette and Ariel Wizman.  Aired in France in April 2015. 

Nigerian Artist Continues a Family Tradition with ‘Sartorial Anarchy.’ “ NPR: Weekend Edition, The Seams.  Interview with Jacki Lyden.  March 2015.

Celebrating Africana Studies: Interview with Quandra Prettyman."  Barnard Magazine, June 2014. 

“Afropoliterne” by Heidi Laura.  Weekendavisen (Denmark), 24 January 2014.  Interview on Afro-cosmopolitan fashion and fashion designers.

A Close Reading of Janelle Monae’s Tuxedo” by Lina Michal. Opening Ceremony blog,November 12, 2013.  

“Treasures of New York.”  WNET.  Interview for documentary on Barnard College.  April 2013.

Afterword: Who Were the First Black Dandies?” Chronicle of Higher Education: Chronicle Review. December 2012. by Brock Read.

Black Dandies Fashion New Academic Identities.” Chronicle of Higher Education: Chronicle Review. Interview with Stacey Patton and Photo Essay.  December 2012. 

Why Black Men Tend to Be Fashion Kings.”  NPR: Tell Me More interview with Michel Martin.  December 2012. 

Archaeology of a Classic: Zora Neale Hurston and Their Eyes Were Watching God at 75.” Barnard Magazine, December 2012.

 ““Slaves to Fashion.” Interview with filmmaker Stacey Holman for “Dressed Like Kings,” a documentary on the Swenkas, a group of South African dandies. August 2012.

When Sneakers and Race Collide” by Austin Considine.  New York Times, June 20, 2012. Interview on controversy over Jeremy Scott’s “shackle” sneaker for Adidas.

“Pushing the Boundaries of Black Style” by Jon Caramanica.  New York Times, August 17, 2011.  Interview for article on blog Street Etiquette and new urban dandy phenomenon.

Slaves to Fashion.” Harlem Book Fair.” C-SPAN, July 2010.

“Zora’s Roots.” DVD film dir. Tom Lowe, 2008.  Interview.

“Balderdash and Piffle: ‘Cool’ .” BBC TV series “Wordhunt” in collaboration with the Oxford English Dictionary, August 2005. Interviewed by jazz musician Courtney Pine.

“The Life and Times of Zora Neale Hurston.” Radio documentary by dir. Aron Myers, 2007.  Interview. 

In The News

Professor Monica Miller is a sought-after style educator who consulted on two projects debuting this August in London.

August 15, 2022

With only 2% of STEM jobs held by Black women nationwide, Barnard community members discuss the importance of mentoring and retaining Black women who are interested in the sciences.

February 8, 2021

Read about the latest grants earned by Barnard faculty and staff to support their research.

November 25, 2020

The recent inductee into the American Political Science Association’s Minority Fellows Program is determined to use the skills she acquired at Barnard to improve public policy and everyday lives.

November 25, 2020

To coincide with Shange’s first posthumous book, Dance We Do: A Poet Explores Black Dance, the College is hosting several events through the two-year-long Shange Magic Project.

October 15, 2020