Jesse McCarthy

Ph.D. in English
Certificate in African American Studies

I study 19th and 20th century African American literature and poetics, with a particular emphasis on modernist currents and the postwar novel. I am currently completing my dissertation, Out in the Cold: Strategies of Black Writing in the Early Cold War, 1945-1972, which argues for a discrete periodization of the postwar years with respect to the nexus of race, literary form, and the fractious cultural politics dominated by rivalries between Communists and Liberals. I argue that reframing this period allows us to recognize the political stakes and aesthetic signs of an emerging sensibility suffusing black writing in the early years of the Cold War. Through close studies of figures like Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Édouard Glissant and others, I show how this new framework can serve to illuminate and make sense of an underserved literary history.

My other teaching and research interests include: race and technology, black intellectual praxis and tradition, contemporary fiction and poetry, transnational modernism, French literature and postcolonial theory, the political essay, film studies and translation.

In the past I have precepted for ENG 360: Modern Fiction (Spring 2014), and ENG 368: The American Novel 1930-Present (Fall 2014 and Fall 2016). In the Fall 2017 semester I will be precepting for ENG 308: American Cinema, and AAS 367/HIS 387: African American History since Emancipation.

In 2015, in partnership with professor Joshua Kotin, I founded Mapping Expatriate Paris: The Shakespeare and Company Lending Library Project (MEP), a digital humanities project, sponsored by the Center for Digital Humanities (CDH) at Princeton University that examines the Lost Generation using the documents, books, and memorabilia in the Sylvia Beach Papers in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) at Princeton’s Firestone Library.

I maintain a strong interest in French and francophone literature. I published an article in the Spring 2016 issue of the French journal Transpositions on the use of the telephone in Proust’s Recherche. I am also interested in practicing literary and cultural criticism, and I have published essays in a number of magazines and journals that can be found on my personal website.