Dr. Jesse A. Goldberg completed his PhD in African American literature at Cornell University in 2018, where he taught classes for the Department of English and the Program in American Studies as well as the Cornell Prison Education Program, before joining the faculty at Longwood University from 2018 to 2020. A lifelong teacher, Dr. Goldberg has thus taught in a private research university, at a public liberal arts college, and inside medium- and maximum-security state prisons.


As a Visiting Research Fellow at Auburn, Dr. Goldberg is currently working on a book project titled Abolition Time: Reading Queer Justice in Slavery’s Afterlife. Coming out of his dissertation work, the project uses the 1781 Zong Massacre as a grounding motif to examine literary and performative texts of the Black Atlantic that engage questions of law, justice, and time. Abolition Time argues that in addition to registering the memory of slavery as exceeding attempts at historical repression, a number of Black Atlantic texts formulate theories of justice which put pressure on the law’s excessive violence through meditating on all that exceeds the law’s reach, resulting in literary and performative articulations of an “excessive present” wherein the past and future fold into a single “now” that unfolds into an ethical imperative for abolitionist politics. Abolition time, then, signals the urgency of a political demand which exceeds historical periodization. The project grounds the concept of abolition time in the methodology of close reading to offer an extended meditation on the question, “What does an abolitionist reading look like, and what might it do?” By doing so, the book will offer a model for abolitionist reading practices as a contribution both to the discipline of literary studies and the interdisciplinary project of black studies and critical prison studies more broadly.


Dr. Goldberg’s scholarly writing appears or is forthcoming in the journals Women & PerformancePublic CultureCallalooMELUS, and CLA Journal, as well as the edited volumes Against a Sharp White Background: Infrastructures of African American PrintTeaching Literature and Writing in PrisonsThe Routledge Guide to Alternative Futurisms, and Toni Morrison on Mothers and Motherhood. He has also contributed public, online review essays to ASAP/J and The Rambler Review and shorter essays to The Platform and The Feminist Wire. His ASAP/J review essay, alongside his recent experience teaching courses on Afrofuturism, point towards the next direction of his research. Dr. Goldberg seeks to join a number of contemporary thinkers to bring abolitionist literary studies into the generative convergences of black studies and the environmental humanities at key questions of the Human, climate catastrophe as it indexes afterlives of slavery and colonization, and modes of relation on a rapidly warming planet. This new research program takes more formal shape in an essay on N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy that is currently under review, and which he hopes may be a seed for a second book project.


In addition to working on his own book project and a number of essays, Dr. Goldberg is currently co-editing a special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies on the intersections of and gaps between prison abolition and queer liberation in both theory and practice. The issue is slated for publication in March 2022.


Ph.D., English Language and Literature, Cornell University, 2018
M.A., English Language and Literature, Cornell University, 2015
B.A. English/B.A. Philosophy, State University of New York at Geneseo, 2012, Summa Cum Laude

Other Publications

Journal Issues/Books

Queer Fire: Liberation & Abolition. Co-edited with Marquis Bey. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies 28.2 (April 2022).

Journal Articles
“Scenes of Resurrection: Black Lives Matter, Die Ins, and the Here and Now of Queer Futurity.” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory (2021): forthcoming. 

“James Baldwin and the Anti-Black Force of Law: On Excessive Violence and Exceeding Violence.” Public Culture 31.3 (September 2019): forthcoming.

“Restored Literary Behaviors of Neo-Slave Narratives: The Ethics of Witnessing in the Excessive Present.” Callaloo 40.4 (Fall 2017): 57-77.

“Slavery’s Ghosts and the Haunted Housing Crisis: On Narrative Economy and Circum-Atlantic Memory in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.” MELUS 41.4 (December 2016): 116-139.

“Theorizing and Resisting the Violence of Stop and Frisk-style Profiling.” CLA Journal 58.4 (July 2016): 256-276.

Book Chapters/Collected Essays
“‘This will incite a riot’: Black Studies, Academic (Un)Freedom, and Surveilled Pedagogy in Prison Education.” Teaching Literature and Writing in Prisons. Eds. Sheila Smith McKoy and Patrick Elliot Alexander (Modern Language Association, 2020): forthcoming.

“Performative Paratexts: Post-Blackness, Law, and Periodizing African American Literature.” Against a Sharp White Background: African American Expression in Print and Digital Culture. Eds. Brigitte Fielder and Jonathan Senchyne (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, May 2019): 147-178.

“From Sweetness to Toya Graham: Intersectionality and the Im/Possibility of Maternal Ethics.” Toni Morrison and Mothers/Motherhood. Eds. Lee Baxter & Martha Satz (Ontario, Canada: April 2017): 140-157.

Review Essays
“The Urgency of Abolition.” New Rambler Review (August 2019). Review essay on Jeffrey Insko’s History, Abolition, and the Ever-Present Now in Antebellum American Writing.

“Ethics and Troubled Kinship in the Wake of Disaster.” ASAP/J (May 2019). Review essay on Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being and Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene.

Book Reviews

Review of Zakiyyah Imah Jackson’s Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World (NYU Press, 2020). QED: A Journal of LGBTQ Woldmaking (2021): forthcoming.

Review of Bjørn F. Stillion Southard’s Peculiar Rhetoric: Slavery, Freedom, and the African Colonization Movement (University Press of Mississippi, 2019). Nineteenth-Century Prose (Winter 2020): forthcoming.

Review of Lindon Barrett’s Racial Blackness and the Discontinuity of Western Modernity (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014). Journal of Black Studies 46.8 (November 2015): 843-846.

Review of Salamishah Tillet’s Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012). In Callaloo 38.1 (Winter 2015): 228-231.

Other Public Writing

“And she was loved: Remembering Toni Morrison, Builder of Worlds.” The Platform. August 2019. URL: http://www.the-platform.org.uk/2019/08/20/and-she-was-loved-remembering-toni-morrison-builder-of-worlds/

“Male Ego Bulls**t: On martial arts training, violence, and toxic masculinity.” The Feminist Wire. November 2016. URL: http://www.thefeministwire.com/2016/11/jesse-goldberg/

Blog Posts


    Abolition Time: Reading Queer Justice in Slavery’s Afterlife (book project)

    “Demanding the Impossible: Apocalypse as Abolitionist Imagination in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy” (journal article, under review)

    “Singing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Limits of Walt Whitman’s Democratic Vision” (journal article)

    “Worlds Within the World: Escaping Without Leaving in Get Out” (essay/journal article)

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    “Beyond ‘equality of the sexes’: Abolitionist Feminism and the Dispossession of Sycorax in The Tempest“; featured speaker in series: “Wednesdays with Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies” at Longwood University (Feb. 4, 2020)


    Chair and Commentator for panel: “Black Bodies and the State”; American Studies Association Annual Meeting (Honolulu, HI: Nov. 7-10, 2019)



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