Imani Perry

Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies
Department of African American Studies
Faculty Associate
Program in Law and Public Affairs
Ph.D, American Civilization; J.D.
Harvard University
Imani Perry

The Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies and faculty associate in the Program in Law and Public Affairs and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton, Perry has written and taught on a number of topics regarding race and African American culture. Using methods of discussion and analysis from various fields of study—including law, literary and cultural studies, music, and the social sciences—Perry’s work often focuses on multifaceted issues such as the influence of race on law, literature and music.

In her work, Perry has taken on complicated and timely issues. In her 2011 book, More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States, for example, Perry discusses the ongoing intersection of race and politics in America.

In addition to More Beautiful, More Terrible, Perry is the author of Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem, a cultural history of the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Her biography of Lorraine Hansberry, Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant Life of Lorraine Hansberry will be published in September 2018. Perry’s forthcoming book on patriarchy, Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation is expected later in 2018 as well.

Perry has published numerous articles in the areas of law, cultural studies and African American Studies. She also wrote the notes and introduction to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of the Narrative of Sojourner Truth.

Perry received a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. From there, she went on to obtain both her J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D in the history of American civilization from Harvard University.


AAS 201
Introduction to the Study of African American Cultural Practices

As the introductory course required to concentrate or earn a certificate in African American Studies, this course examines the past and present, the doings and the sufferings of Americans of African descent from a multidisciplinary perspective. It highlights the ways in which serious intellectual scrutiny of the agency of black people in the United States and help redefine what it means to be American, new world, modern and post modern.

AAS 314 / COM 396
Model Memoirs: The Life Stories of International Fashion Models

Explores the life-writing of American, African, and Asian women in the fashion industry as a launching point for thinking about race, gender, and class. How do ethnicity and femininity intersect? How are authenticity and difference commodified? How do women construct identities through narrative and negotiate their relationships to their bodies, families, and nations? Includes guest lectures bu fashion editors and models; discussions of contemporary television programs, global fashion, and cultural studies; and student self-narratives about their relationships with cultural standards of beauty, whether vexed or not.

AAS 323 / AMS 321
Diversity in Black America

As the demographics of Blacks in America change, we are compelled to rethink the dominant stories of who African Americans are, and from whence they come. The seminar explores the deep cultural, genealogical, national origin, regional, and class-based diversity of people of African descent in the United States.

AAS 327 / ENG 379 / GSS 368
Masters of the 20th Century: Lorraine Hansberry

This special topics course will focus on artists and intellectuals whose corpus reflects and illuminates 20th century African American life. Lorraine Hansberry, the first African American female playwright to have a play open on Broadway, explored a series of critical themes in her work, including: race, migration, colonialism, gender and social class. In addition to having a distinguished career as a playwright, Hansberry was an activist and advocate for gender and racial justice. Students will study her published and unpublished plays, essays and poetry, as well as relevant social and cultural history and literary criticism.

AAS 351 / GSS 351
Law, Social Policy, and African American Women

Journeying from enslavement and Jim Crow to the post-civil rights era, this course will learn how law and social policy have shaped, constrained, and been resisted by black women’s experience and thought. Using a wide breadth of materials including legal scholarship, social science research, visual arts, and literature, we will also develop an understanding of how property, the body, and the structure and interpretation of domestic relations have been frameworks through which black female subjectivity in the United States was and is mediated.

AAS 362 / WWS 386 / POL 338
Race and the American Legal Process

This course examines the dynamic and often conflicted relationships between African American struggles for inclusion, and the legislative, administrative, and judicial decision-making responding to or rejecting those struggles, from Reconstruction to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. In tracing these relationships we will cover issues such as property, criminal law, suffrage, education, and immigration, with a focus on the following theoretical frameworks: equal protection, due process, civic participation and engagement, and political recognition.

AAS 386, AMS 386
Race and the City

Race and the City examines how the politics of race and racialization shaped the development of American cities over the course of the 20th century. The course cover a diverse array of topics including: ghettoization, urban renewal, the creation of public housing, popular music (Jazz, Motown, Hip Hop), public art and graffiti, literature of urbanity, the fair housing movement, deindustrialization and gentrification. We will have particular foci on the following cities: Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

AAS 525
Law and the Study of Race

This is a graduate level seminar for students who want to use case law, legislation and legal history as a means of examining race and ethnicity in the Americas in the fields of literature, history, cultural studies, and sociology.

AAS 555
Toni Morrison: Texts and Contexts

This course will provide a critical overview of the writings of Toni Morrison. Close reading, cultural analysis, intertextuality, social theory and the African American literary tradition will be emphasized.