Monica L. Miller

Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies

Monica L. Miller, Associate Professor of English, 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 recipent of the Gladys Brooks Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, Barnard College (2008).

She is currently at work on a new project:  

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. *Supported by a Andrew W. Mellon New Directions Grant, 2012-2015.*



Academic Focus: 

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


Fall 2016: Black European Cultural Studies (Africana Studies Colloquium), Black Lit Now (Senior Seminar, English Department)

Presentations / Recent Lectures: 

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.

"Reading Columbia: An Evening with Faculty Author Victor Lavalle." Conversation with Victor Lavalle. Columbia University Office of Student Life "Reading Columbia" series.  October 2016.

“The Artists Voice: Jordan Casteel.” Conversation with Jordan Casteel and Rujeko Hockley.  Studio Museum in Harlem Artist-in-resident Series. October 2016.

“A Raisin the Midnight Sun.” Other Europes: MLA International Symposium. Dusseldorf, Germany. June 2016.

“Isaac Julien as Method and Muse.” Black Feminist Futures Symposium. Panelist. Northwestern University, Departments of Performance Studies and African American Studies, May 2016.

“A Sharp, White Background: Isaac Julien’s True North.” ICE Cubed: An Inquiry into the Aesthetics, History, and Science of Ice. Heyman Center, Columbia University. April 2016.

“Figuring Blackness in a Place Without Race.” US Locations Seminar, University of Chicago, Department of Anthropology.  January 2016.

“Soul On Ice”: Critical Race Theory, Black Nordic Studies, and the Disappearance of Race,” Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), University of Charleston. Panel: “Policing Blackness Across the Diaspora.” Charleston, SC.  Presenter and Panel Organizer.  November 2015.

“Figuring Blackness in a Place Without Race.” Plenary talk.  74th Annual English Institute, Yale University, New Haven, CT.  September 2015.

“The Portraits of ‘Negern Petterson’: Black Possibilities/Possibilities of Blackness.”  Black Portraiture[s] II: Imaging the Black Body, Re-Staging Histories.  New York University, Harvard University.  Villa La Pietra, Odeon Firenze: Florence, Italy. Panel: “The Image of the Black in Western Art.”  May 2015.

“Soul On Ice”: Critical Race Theory, Black Nordic Studies, and the Disappearance of Race.” Collegium for African American Research.  Liverpool Hope University.  Panel: “Theorising Race, Thinking Politically.” Liverpool, UK.  June 2015.

On leave: Fall 2017- Spring 2018



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 Journal 63(2) (2011); Clio 40 (3) (2011); Amerikastudien/American Studies (Winter 2011); TDR (The Drama Review) 57:1 (T217) Spring 2013.

Journal Articles

“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 Shange double 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 Ice.  The 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 Hurston. The 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.


Book Chapters

“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.

Museum Essays/Art Previews

“ ‘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).

“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).


Television and Media

“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.élégance-made-in-black.html

“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.

“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 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. 

(page last updated 1/7/15)


214 Barnard Hall

Office Hours: 

On leave for the 2018-2019 academic year


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