English Department Faculty

Rhonda Frederick

Professor, English and African & African Diaspora Studies




  • Evidence of Things Not Seen: Fantastical Blackness in Genre Fictions. Rutgers University Press, July 2022


Evidence of Things Not Seen: Fantastical Blackness in Genre Fictions is an interdisciplinary study of race in the Americas. The “fantastical” in fantastical blackness is conceived by an unrestrained imagination because it lives, despite every attempt at annihilation; this blackness also amazes because it refuses the limits of anti-blackness. As put to work in this project, fantastical blackness is an ethical praxis that centers black self-knowledge as a point of departure rather than as a reaction to denigrating dominant narratives. Erotic romance, mystery/detective, fantasy, mixed-genre, and science fictions’ unrestrained imaginings profoundly communicate this quality of blackness, specifically in the work of BarbaraNeely, Tobias Buckell, Colin Channer, Nalo Hopkinson, and Colson Whitehead. Ultimately, the imaginable possibilities in these popular genres offer strategies through which readers can ask different questions of and for blackness. When black writers center this expressive quality, they make fantastical blackness available to a broad audience that then uses its imaginable vocabularies to reshape extra-literary realities. Ultimately, popular genres’ imaginable truths offer strategies through which the made up can be made real.

  • “Colón Man a Come”: Mythographies of Panamá Canal Migration. Rowman & Littlefield/Lexington Books, January 2005

The Colón Man—a laborer named after Panamá’s Caribbean port city— was the subject of historical, sociological, and geographical research; “Colón Man a Come”: Mythographies of Panamá Canal Migration is the first examination of imaginings of this Panamá Canal laborer. The book traces the Colón Man through contemporaneous histories that convey the importance of the canal as an engineering achievement and as a sign of the US as a global power; it then examines more recent historical accounts that insert Colón Men into histories and geographies, marking these workers as integral to the successfully completed canal. Literary, lyrical, and personal narratives conjure these narratives—and they tell tales that other disciplines leave untold. Literary narratives of the Panamá Canal draw on “imaginable truths” that characterize this migrant and migration. Yet the import of these imaginable truths is that they informed Colón Men’s experiences with migration, labor, ethnicity/race, status/class, and masculinity. The disparities between creative, first person, and historical depictions of isthmian migration suggest that fictive renditions of canal work and workers represent Colón Men’s qualitative, imagined, and imaginable realities.  

Works in Progress

  • “Speculating on a Past/Future Self: Tan-Tan in Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber
  • “Creolizing the Police Procedural: Patrick Chamoiseau’s Solibo Magnificent
  • “Thrilling Conclusions: (Not) Fixing ‘Underprivileged Youth’ in Steven Barnes’s Charisma


  • “Aint; Jokin’; Unsettling Voyeurism Through Art and Affect,” co-written with Leigh Patel. Carrie Mae Weems: Strategies of Engagement. Edited by Robin Lydenberg and Ash Anderson. The Trustees of Boston College, 2018: 25-32.
  • “‘Stories of What If’: Brown Girl in the Ring and Literary Fantasy as Theory,” fiar: forum for inter-american research 11.1 (Apr. 2018): 6-18 (http://interamerica.de/vol-11-1-open-issue/11-1-contents/)
  • “Making Jamaican Love: Colin Channer’s Waiting in Vain and Romance-ified Diaspora Identities,” Small Axe: A Journal of Caribbean Criticism 17.3 November 2013, Number 42: 63-84.
  • “Beyond the Pale, Beyond the Dark: Representing Caribbean Racial Realities at a US University,” Teaching Anglophone Caribbean Literature, MLA Options for Teaching Series, edited by Supriya Nair. New York: The Modern Languages Association of America, 2012: 255-278.
  • “Genre, Gender, and Eric Walrond’s Equivocal Transnational Vision,” Eric Walrond: The Critical Heritage, edited by Louis Parascandola and Carl Wade.  Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2012: 100-127.
  • “Creole Performance in Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands.” Gender and History 15.3 (November 2003): 487-506.  Reissued in Dialogues of Dispersal: Gender, Sexuality and African Diasporas.  Edited by Sandra Gunning, Tera W. Hunter, and Michele Mitchell.  Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004: 91-110.
  • “Mythographies of Panamá Canal Migrations: Eric Walrond’s ‘Panama Gold’.”  Marginal Migrations: The Circulation of Cultures within the Caribbean. Oxford: Macmillan Press—Warwick University Caribbean Studies, 2003.  Pp. 43-76.
  • “What If You’re an ‘Incredibly Unattractive, Fat, Pastrylike-fleshed Man’?: Teaching Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place.” College Literature 30.3 (Summer 2003): 1-18.
  • “Colón Man Version: Oppositional Narratives and Jamaican Identity in Michael Thelwell’s The Harder They Come.”  Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research 2.2 (2002): 157-176.


  • Review of Sex and the Citizen: Interrogating the Caribbean edited by Faith Smith (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2011): 292 pp for Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Spring 2012
  • “The Colón Man” and “Jan Carew.”  Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas.  MacMillan Reference Books, December 2005.
  • “Jamaica Kincaid,” The Columbia Companion to the 20th Century American Short Story, 2001.
  • “The Ethnic Consciousness Movement.”  The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1994.
  • Review of Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick:  Race and Gender in the Work of Zora Neale Hurston by Susan Edwards Meisenhelder (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1999) for American Literature 73.1 (March 2001): 209-210.


  • Diana Wright, Mystik 1580 AM, “South Florida Speaks Out (Talk)” 12 pm - 1 pm, 29 September 2003, http://www.wsrf.com, TOPIC: Graduate course, “Jamaican Culture and Globalization”