Erica R. Edwards is the Presidential Term Chair in African American Literature and an associate professor of English at Rutgers University. She is an expert in African American literature and culture and the author of Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership (University of Minnesota Press, 2012).
Edwards is currently at work on her book “The Other Side of Terror: Blackness and the Culture of US Empire,” which argues that the making of US empire as a way of life throughout the long war on terror has transformed contemporary black writing. Mapping the transformations of African American literature against campaigns of counterterrorism both at home and abroad—beginning in 1968 with the FBI’s covert COINTELPRO war against black radicalism and proceeding through the war in Vietnam, the Iran hostage crisis, the first Gulf War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—Edwards argues that poetry, fiction, television, and film have exposed what she calls the imperial grammars of blackness while also marking out minor grammars of subsistence, survival, and black radical undoing.
Edwards is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Modern Language Association, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. She cofounded the UC Consortium for Black Studies in California. Her work on African American literature, politics, and gender critique has appeared in such journals as American Literary History, American Quarterly, Black Camera, Callaloo, and differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. Edwards earned a PhD in literature from Duke University.