UMass Boston

Keith Jones

Africana Studies
Wheatley Hall Floor 04

Areas of Expertise

Anglophone and African diasporic literatures and cultural production, European- and African-descended literatures of the United States and the Americas, black diaspora and black study, native studies, white settler colonialism, and post-colonial theory, coloniality and decoloniality, gender and queer studies, poetry and poetics, cultural studies and cultural theory, critical theory and critical pedagogy


PhD, English, Duke University
MA, English, California State University Long Beach
BA, Community Studies, University of California Santa Cruz

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

Keith Jones is a visiting assistant professor in the Africana Studies Department. His teaching and scholarship situate the cultural production of African and African-descended peoples within the entangled, long and ongoing histories of coloniality and racial capitalism. He attends the intimate and the global in his teaching and thought and approaches the classroom as a space of shared, precise, convivial learning.  

He is currently engaged in two research projects. The first, titled Sentenced to the World: Late-Style and Paraliterary Forms in U.S. Fiction, 1975-1987, examines the innovations for historical thinking an Afro-diasporic problematic brings to the Anglo-European genre of the historical novel. It traces the specific turn to paraliterary forms—namely, a blues novel, a western, and a sword and sorcery series—by U.S. writers in the aftermath of the 1960s in order to demonstrate how, in a period of anti-colonial refusal and resistance, new forms for narrativizing historical events beyond Euro-modern norms became urgent. This turn to “marginal” genre forms, he argues, enacts a decolonial historiographic poetics vital to rewriting, or re-centering, the absences and erasures of colonial modernity’s “official” archive at a moment of increased return, the 1970s and 1980s, to the dominant global order.

The second project, titled Figurations of the Baroque: Coloniality, Vernacularity, and Historicity in Contemporary Afro-Diasporic Thought, traces the worlding projects of contemporary Afro-diasporic writers, artists, filmmakers, and thinkers. Their turn to what Edouard Glissant calls a “planetary consciousness” has produced an astonishingly rich and rigorous series of Afro-diasporic texts that annul, in order to move beyond, Euro-modernity and its norms for organizing, broadly, the social, but, more crucially, the “human” as well. In these textual, aesthetic, visual, and epistemological spaces, narrative forms loop and blur and become ongoing, unfolding experimental modes for rethinking, re-engaging, and ultimately refusing forms of social life still predicated upon white settler colonialism.

He is also the author of the poetry chapbooks, blue lake of tensile fire (Projective Industries), shorn ellipses (Morning House), the lucid upward ladder (Verse), Fugue Meadow (Ricochet Editions), and Surface to Air, Residuals of Basquiat (Pressed Wafer). His poetry manuscript echo’s errand was a finalist for both the 2016 Numinous Orisons, Luminous Origins Literary Award (Agape Editions) and the 1913 Prize for 1st Books (1913 Press). His poetry chapbook the lucid upward ladder was a finalist for the 2015 Tomaž Šalamun Prize (Verse Magazine). His poems have appeared in such journals as Barrow Street, Chicago Review, Cloudbank, Denver Quarterly, Flag + Void, Let the Bucket Down, No Infinite, Positive Magnets, The Winter Anthology, and Verse. His prose has appeared in Consequence Magazine and Stylus, the blog of the Woodberry Poetry Room, Harvard University, and recently in The Washington Post. His poem, "Echoes," was recently named a finalist for the 2020 Omnidawn Single Poem Broadside Prize. His chapbook, Limbs of Earth, was also recently named a finalist for the 2020 Omnidawn Chapbook Prize. His first full-length poetry book, entitled Echo's Errand, is forthcoming from Black Ocean Press.

 An interview exploring the intersections (and overlaps) between his scholarship and his poetry can be found at Morning House/Agape Editions.

Courses Taught

Contemporary Issues in Black Studies
Introduction to Black Studies
Introduction to African American Literatures
Harlem Renaissance
Afro-Caribbean Literatures
Post-Colonial Literatures
Race Class Gender

(Selected) Talks, Readings, and Presentations

Panelist, “The Long History of the Non-Event of Emancipation: On Juneteenth,” hosted by Call It Out Boston (Community Event, Jamaica Plain). June 19, 2021. 

Panelist, “Racial Justice at Work: Unions as Agents of Transformation in Higher Education,” The Urgency of Now: Transformative Resistance in Higher Education, Bunker Hill Community  College’s 4th Annual Center for Equity and Cultural Wealth Institute. June 4, 2021. 

Panelist, “Homegoing Panel on Culture, Consciousness and Healing within the African Diaspora.” Restorative Justice Colloquium, University Massachusetts Boston. March 25, 2021. 

Panelist, “Homegoing Panel on Culture, Consciousness and Healing within the African Diaspora.” Restorative Justice Colloquium, University Massachusetts Boston. March 25, 2021. 

Panelist, “Homegoing Panel on the Long History of the Criminalization of Black life in the United States, from Non-Persons to Persons.” Restorative Justice Colloquium, University Massachusetts Boston. March 11, 2021. 

Panelist, “Job Creep: Forum on Increasing Workloads,” Faculty Staff Union Forum, University Massachusetts Boston. February 26, 2021. 

Panelist, “The Historical Experience of the African Diaspora and the Literary Imagination: A Reading and Conversation with Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing,” Restorative Justice Colloquium, University Massachusetts Boston. February 25, 2021. 

Panelist, “Homegoing Panel Discussion on the Effects of European Colonialism on African Civilizations, as well as the Afterlife of the Middle Passage throughout the African Diaspora,” Restorative Justice Colloquium, University Massachusetts Boston. February 4, 2021. 

Panelist, “Envisioning a Remote Campus Climate: Fostering Anti-Oppression, Promoting Health, and Unpacking Traditional Educational Pedagogies,” Center for Innovative Teaching,    University Massachusetts Boston. October 28, 2020. 

Panelist, Educators for a Democratic Union Panel on Anti-Racist Organizing. Massachusetts Teacher Association. October 24, 2020. 

Panelist, “Connecting Social Equity and Well-Being: Anti-Racism, COVID-19, and Student Labor on Campus,” Graduate Employment Union, University Massachusetts Boston. October 20, 2020. 

“Baroque Emplotments: On the Archipelagic Poetics of John Akomfrah and Arthur Jafa” American Comparative Literature Conference, Chicago, IL. March 2020 (postponed due to COVID-19). 

Panelist, “BLK & Liberated” (Film viewing and discussion of Valerio Lopes’ 2011 documentary, Cabralista). University Massachusetts Boston. February 29, 2020.

"Poetry and Poetics Within and Beyond Black Lives Matter," Waltham Public Library (February 25, 2020)

"A Proliferation of Voices: On the Poetics of Joyelle McSweeney, Urayoán Noel, and Ronaldo V. Wilson," Woodbury Poetry Room, Harvard University (October 16, 2019)

“'What are the stories we tell in dark times?': On Decolonial Pedagogy and Poetics in W.E.B. Du Bois’s 'The Comet,'" Africa Network Conference, Smith College Northampton, Massachusetts (September 27-29, 2019)

The William Corbett Poetry Series, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts (September 30, 2019)

Pioneer Valley Poetry Festival, Amherst College, Massachusetts (September 13-14, 2019)

“Attunement: Critical Pedagogy and Poetics in a Decolonial Key, or How Not to Be a Good Bourgeois/White Settler Subject,” (Panel, “Teaching to Reclaim: Towards an Inclusive Creating Writing Pedagogy”) Chautauqua Institute Writing Festival (Summer 2019)

“On the Historicity of James Baldwin,” (Remarks following a screening of Raul Peck’s I am Not Your Negro) University of Massachusetts Boston (2018)

Poetry Reading, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Massachusetts, (July 9, 2018)

“On Contradiction and Interdiction: Incarceration as Structure not Event,” (College of Liberal Arts Panel on Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow) University of Massachusetts Boston (2017)

“’A Concert of Worlds’: On the Poetry and Poetics of Ed Roberson and Joe Donahue,” The Woodberry Poetry Room, Harvard University (2016)

“On Anti-Colonial and De-Colonial Struggles, the African Diaspora, and Black Freedom Movements,” Young Professionals Network of Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, 6th Annual Leadership Development Conference (2016)

“Introducing ‘Be Again: A Screening of Three Short Films by the Poet Fanny Howe,’” Barker Center, Harvard University (2015)