Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Anna Julia Cooper Center is the home of a postdoctoral fellowship program for outstanding scholars at the ABD or early post-doctoral stage engaged in research on intersectional questions of gender and race.

Interested in applying for a Cooper Postdoctoral Fellowship? Email for more information and upcoming application cycles.

Meet our 2015-2016 postdoctoral fellows:

Jaira Harrington
Jaira J. Harrington earned a doctorate of Political Science from the University of Chicago. Jaira is a first-generation college graduate, West Side Chicago native and Spelman College alumna. Jaira’s research has been funded by the Ford Foundation, NSEP Boren Fellowship, and the Tinker Grant Foundation. Some of her proudest accomplishments at UChicago include the 2011 Jane Morton and Henry C. Murphy Award, in recognition of her campus service in her department, at OMSA, and the broader Chicago community, and the 2015 Wayne C. Booth Prize for Teaching Excellence, the highest teaching honor given to a graduate student lecturer at the University. This fall she joins Wake Forest University in the Department of Politics and International Affairs and the Anna Julia Cooper Center on Gender, Race and Politics in the South as a postdoctoral fellow.

Teaching – Fall 2015:
POL 242B: Race & Politics in Brazil
First Year Seminar: Challenges to the Global Community


Sherri Williams
Sherri Williams studies social media, social television and how people of color use and are represented on social media and how people of color and marginalized people are represented in the media. She appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Live show to discuss social media images of Rachel Jeantel after Jeantel testified in the George Zimmerman trial. She was also interviewed by USA Today for her social media expertise. Williams’ dissertation focuses on images of women of color on reality television and Twitter. Williams presented her knowledge on black social television twice at SXSW Interactive. She taught journalism writing, media diversity and women/gender studies classes at Syracuse University and she incorporated social media into her courses. Before entering academia Williams was a print journalist for a decade including at The Associated Press. She covered several beats including education, courts, social services and immigrant/minority/marginalized communities and traveled to South Africa and Cuba on journalism fellowships. Her work has appeared in Essence, Ebony, Upscale, Heart & Soul, The Source and The Quill magazines.

Teaching – Fall 2015 COM 370/670: Race, Gender and Media


Previous AJC Postdoctoral Fellows


Dr. Trimiko Melancon, Assistant Professor of English and African & African American Studies at Loyola University

Dr. Trimiko Melancon earned her B.A. in English from Xavier University of Louisiana and her M.A. and Ph.D. in African American Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her teaching and scholarly interests lie primarily in African American and American literary and cultural production; black feminist theory and criticism; critical race, gender, and sexuality studies; and African American and Black German studies. An inaugural visiting scholar at the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics (Tulane University) and the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies (Emory University), Professor Melancon has also been the J. William Fulbright Scholar of American Literature and American Studies in Berlin, Germany, a Mellon Mays University Fellow, and a Frederick Douglass Teaching Scholar.

She has also received grants and fellowships that have facilitated the continued support of her interdisciplinary research and teaching: from the Andrew W. Mellon, Woodrow Wilson, and Nellie Mae Foundations, as well as the Social Science Research Council and Fulbright Commission. She is the author of Unbought and Unbossed: Transgressive Black Women, Sexuality, and Representation (Temple, Nov. 2014), as well as co-editor of Black Female Sexualities (Rutgers, Jan. 2015). Her publications appear in African American Review, Callaloo, Reconstruction, and the Journal of Popular Culture, among other venues.

During her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Melancon worked on completing two book projects. Both of those books were published following her fellowship:  
Unbought and Unbossed: Transgressive Black Women, Sexuality, and Representation
Temple University Press
Unbought and Unbossed examines black women’s literary and cultural production of the 1970s and early 1980s. Considering texts in the socio-cultural and historical moments of their production, Trimiko Melancon analyzes representations of black women that not only transgress racial, gender, and sexual boundaries, but also diverge from both discourses of “whiteness” and constructions of female identity imposed by black nationalism.

Drawing from black feminist and critical race theories, discourses on gender and sexuality, and literary criticism, Melancon illuminates the complexity of black female identity, desire, and intimacy. She sheds light on a more complex black identity, one ungoverned by rigid politics over-determined by race, gender and sexuality, while also enabling us to better understand the black sexual revolution, contemporary cultural moments, and representations in the age of Michelle Obama.

Black Female Sexualities
Edited by Trimiko Melancon and Joanne M. Braxton
Rutgers University Press

The twelve original essays in Black Female Sexualities reveal the diverse ways black women perceive, experience, and represent sexuality. The contributors highlight the range of tactics that black women use to express their sexual desires and identities. Yet they do not shy away from exploring the complex ways in which black women negotiate the more traumatic aspects of sexuality and grapple with the legacy of negative stereotypes.

Black Female Sexualities takes not only an interdisciplinary approach—drawing from critical race theory, sociology, and performance studies—but also an intergenerational one, in conversation with the foremothers of black feminist studies. In addition, it explores a diverse archive of representations, covering everything from blues to hip-hop, from Crash to Precious, from Sister Souljah to Edwidge Danticat. Revealing that black female sexuality is anything but a black-and-white issue, this collection demonstrates how to appreciate a whole spectrum of subjectivities, experiences, and desires.