Professor, Department of African American Studies and Department of English
Yogita Goyal is Professor of English and African American Studies at UCLA. She is Editor of the journal, Contemporary Literature, for British and Anglophone Fiction, and Past President of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (A.S.A.P.). She specializes in modern and contemporary literature and the study of race and postcolonialism, with a particular emphasis on African American and African literature. Her first book, Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2010), shifts the center of black diaspora studies by considering Africa as constitutive of black modernity, rather than its forgotten past. She is guest editor of a special issue of Research in African Literatures (2014) on “Africa and the Black Atlantic” and editor of the Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature (2017).
Goyal’s most recent book, Runaway Genres: Global Afterlives of Slavery (NYU, 2019) tracks the emergence of slavery as the defining template through which current forms of human rights abuses are understood. To fathom forms of freedom and bondage today – from unlawful detention to sex trafficking to the refugee crisis to genocide – this project reads a vast range of contemporary literature, showing how the literary forms used to tell these stories derive from the antebellum genre of the slave narrative. Taking form seriously in discussions of minority literature, the book examines key genres associated with the slave narrative: sentimentalism, the gothic, satire, ventriloquism, and the bildungsroman. Showing how slavery provides the occasion not just for revisiting the Atlantic past but for renarrating the global present, Runaway Genres creates a new map of contemporary black diaspora literature. The book received the René Wellek Prize from ACLA, the Perkins Prize from the International Society for the Study of Narrative and Honorable Mention for the James Russell Lowell Prize from MLA.
After studying in Tokyo and Delhi, Goyal received her Ph.D. from Brown University in 2003. Her research and teaching explore the relation between race and empire, nation and diaspora, and past and present in a broad range of African diaspora literature from the nineteenth century to the present. Most of her work foregrounds the articulation of literary form with social and political change, with a view to rethinking questions of social justice and ethics in historical and continuing forms of inequality. Goyal’s work has been supported by fellowships from the ACLS (2016-2017), the University of California President’s Office (2007-2008), and the NEH (Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, 2003-2004). She was Chair of the Publications Committee of the American Comparative Literature Association for 2015-2018, and served on the Founding Editorial Board of Oxford Bibliographies in Literary and Critical Theory. A member of the MLA Delegate Assembly from 2016-2019, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Postcolonial Studies Forum for 2018-2023 and the Advisory Council for the American Literature Society for 2018-2020. She regularly teaches classes on slavery and migration, African diaspora literature, the global novel, and postcolonial theory, and was the Director of Departmental Honors for English from 2013-2016, and Undergraduate Vice Chair for English from 2019-2022. In 2019, she was Visiting Professor at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität, Berlin.
She is working on a monograph on twenty-first century refugee literature and culture, Aesthetics of Refuge, and editing The Cambridge Companion to Contemporary African American Literature (contracted for 2022).
African American Literature, Anglophone African Literature, Black Atlantic/ Black Diaspora Studies, Novel, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Transnational American Literature, and Slavery Studies.
Ph.D., Brown University, 2003
M.A., Delhi University, 1997
B.A. (Honors), St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, 1995
BOOKS AND EDITED VOLUMES
2020 “We Are All Migrants: The Refugee Novel and the Claims of Universalism.” Modern Fiction Studies 66.2 Summer: 239-259. [Winner of the Margaret Church Memorial Prize for 2020].
2020 “No Mere Slogans.” Review of Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents. Random House, 2020. The Los Angeles Review of Books.
2019. “Postcolonial, Still.” Response to Forum on Forms of the Global Anglophone. Post 45
2019. “On Transnational Analogy: Thinking Race and Caste with W.E.B. Du Bois and Rabindranath Tagore.” Atlantic Studies: Global Currents 16.1: 54-71.
2019. “All of It Is Now: Slavery and the Post-Black Moment in Contemporary African American Literature.” Timelines of American Literature, eds. Cody Marrs and Christopher Hager. Johns Hopkins University Press: 228-242.
2018. “Un-American: Refugees and the Vietnam War.” PMLA 133 (2): 378-383.
2018. “No Strangers Here.” Los Angeles Review of Books.
2017. “We Need New Diasporas,” American Literary History, 29 4.1 (Winter): 640-663.
2017. “Third World Problems,” College Literature 44.4 (Fall): 467-474.
2017. “The Logic of Analogy: Slavery and the Contemporary Refugee,” Dossier on Contemporary Refugee Time-Spaces, ed. Angela Naimou. Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development. 8.3 (Winter): 543-546.
2017. “The Genres of Guantánamo Diary: Postcolonial Reading and the War on Terror.” The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry. Special issue on Postcolonial Reading Publics, ed. Ankhi Mukherjee, 4.1: 69-87.
2017. “Coming Home from Irony.” Interview with Percival Everett, Los Angeles Review of Books.
2017. “The Transnational Turn and Postcolonial Studies,” Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature, ed. Yogita Goyal. Cambridge University Press, 53-71.
2017. “Introduction: The Transnational Turn.” Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature, ed. Yogita Goyal. Cambridge University Press, 1-15.
2016. “Black Diaspora Literature and the Question of Slavery,” Edinburgh Companion to Atlantic Literary Studies, eds. Leslie Eckel and Claire Elliott, 146-160.
2016. “Romance and Realism.” Oxford History of the Novel in English. Volume 11: The Novel in Africa and the Caribbean since 1950, ed. Simon Gikandi.Oxford University Press, 301-315.
2016. “African American Literature, Criticism, and Theory.” The Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies, eds. Sangeeta Ray, Henry Schwarz, José Luis Villacañas Berlanga, Alberto Moreiras, and April Shemak. Blackwell.
2015. “Gender and Geomodernisms” Cambridge Companion to the American Modernist Novel, ed. Joshua Miller. Cambridge University Press, 89-105.
2014. “A Deep Humanness, A Deep Grace.” Interview with Chris Abani, Research in African Literatures 45.3: 227-240. LINK
2014. “African Atrocity, American Humanity: Slavery and Its Transnational Afterlives,” Research in African Literatures. 45.3, 48-71. LINK
2014. “Black Nationalist Hokum: George Schuyler’s Transnational Critique.” African American Review. 47.1, 21-36. LINK
2011. “The Pull of the Ancestors: Slavery, Apartheid, and Memory in Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying and Cion.” Research in African Literatures. 42.2, 147-169. LINK
2010. “Towards an African Atlantic: Ama Ata Aidoo’s Diasporic Theater.” Atlantic Studies. 7.3, 241-261. LINK
2006. “The Gender of Diaspora in Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby.” Modern Fiction Studies. 52.2, 393-414. LINK
2003. “Theorizing Africa in Black Diaspora Studies: Caryl Phillips’s Crossing the River.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies. 12.1, 5-38. LINK