Mark S. James

  • Assistant Professor
  • Division: Humanities
  • Department: English

Why I love teaching at Molloy College

I enjoy the sense of community and the supportive atmosphere here at Molloy College. There is a sense of excitement and change in the air and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

Academic Interests

Cultural and literary theory, American literature, African American literature, critical theory, critical mixed race studies, critical university studies, W. E. B. Du Bois, gender and sexuality.

What I am working on

I'm in the process of revising two articles: one on W. E. B. Du Bois, and the other on critical mixed race studies. I am also in the preliminary stages of a project that explores American impatience with the ineffable, the immeasurable, the incommensurate, etc. that appears to be at the heart of my interest in American anti-intellectualism, the mixed race experience, the figure of the uncoupled individual, and the status of the humanities in the neoliberal university.

Educational Philosophy

As a teacher, I seek to emphasize the active role each of us plays in the interpretation and reproduction of literature and culture. I therefore prefer to get off the "stage" and ask the class to circle up so that we can engage in critical discussions face-to-face. Inspired by Paolo Freire, bell hooks, Henry Giroux, and others, this approach ensures that the students will generate most of the teachable moments that I believe are crucial for responsible humanistic and democratic learning. I begin each the semester with the admonition that liberal education is sometimes a painful process, but that is how we learn best how to think critically and empathetically. To ensure that all students engage the material and the ideas in a meaningful way, I have them write several short response papers and one or two longer research papers over the course of the semester or term. What I look for in those papers is the quality of argument and writing- the clearness of claims backed by relevant evidence, engagement with opposing perspectives, prose style, etc, Because I sometimes betray my own position on the issues we discuss in spite of myself (I'm working on this), I make it as clear as possible that it is acceptable, even encouraged, to take positions that run counter to mine.

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., The Committee on the History of Culture - University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • M.A., American Studies - University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI
  • B.A., Humanities/English - University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Additional Information

I am a recent transplant to Long Island after a long peripatetic career as a graduate student and teacher. My most recent post was in Ukraine where I spent two years as a Fulbright Scholar lecturing on American literature and American studies. I am excited to be in New York and I look forward to exploring everything this city has to offer and getting involved in my new community.

Favorite books

My favorite books are too numerous to list, but a few that spring immediately to mind are The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Erasure by Percival Everett, Caucasia by Danzy Senna, Angry Black White Boy by Adam Mansbach, White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty, This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, On Beauty by Zadie Smith, etc.


Web Articles
"Using the Mixed-Race Category to Expose Anti-Black Racism: A Response to Thomas Chatterton Williams," Mixed Race Studies: Scholarly Perspectives on the Mixed Race Experience, March 17, 2012 http://www.mixedracestudies.org/wordpress/?p=21565

Reference Entries
"Signifyin(g) on the Signifier: Henry Louis Gates and African American Literature." Icons of African American Literature. Santa Barbara, CA. Greenwood Publishers: 2011.

Articles
"On Close Reading: Reading as Practice in Democracy." Moving with the Times. Horlivka, Ukraine, Horlivka State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages: January, 2012.

Young, Jeffrey. "College 2.0: Teachers Without Technology Strike Back." Chronicle of Higher Education. August 15, 2010. Web. (Interviewed)

"Blinded by Whiteness: The Call to Action in W. E. B. Du Bois's 'Of the Coming of John.'" 30 pp. ms (In Revision)

"Coloring the Monorace: Critical Mixed Race Studies as the End(s)of Identity Politics" 20pp. ms (submitted for review)