Welcome to my new blog, which provides information on my intellectual work, recent and ongoing projects in the humanities, social sciences, expressive arts, and social justice.


Sequential Subjects

My forthcoming book, Black Women in Sequence: Reinking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anim
e, concerns women of African descent in sequential art. It begins with an examination of comic strip artists in the 1930s that were a part of the Popular Front, proceeds to work through issues of nationhood, the political economy, and différance as seen in graphic novels, comic books, animation, television, and film from 1944 to the twenty-first century, and ends with recent works of Black women graphic novel writers, animators, and artists.

Disciplining Women

My first book, Disciplining Women: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Black Counterpublics, and the Cultural Politics of Black Sororities (SUNY, 2010) is a cultural history and interdisciplinary case study on the social and political work of a historically Black sorority. In it, I look at film, stepping, violence & initiation rituals, popular literature, and activism to think through the role that BGLOs play in the lives of Black women and how their social justice work permeates the Black public sphere.
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[Read the first chapter]

[NPR interview]


"Graphic Blackness/Anime Noir: Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks and the Adult Swim," Watching While Black: Reflections on African American Television, Beretta Smith Shomade ed., (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012).

“Put Some Skirts on the Cards!: Black Women's Visual Performances in the Art of Annie Lee," From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle Class Performances, Vershawn Ashanti Young and Bridget Harris Tsemo eds., (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2011). [order here]

"Links, Legacies and Letters: A Cultural History of Black Greek-letter Organizations,” Brothers & Sisters: Diversity in College Fraternities and Sororities, Gregory Parks & Craig Torbenson eds. (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2009). [read excerpt]

“The Tragedy of Whiteness and Neo-Liberalism in Brad Kaaya’s O/Othello,” Daniel Bernardi ed., The Persistence of Whiteness: Race and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema (London: Routledge, 2008). [read excerpt]

“Black Bodies/Yellow Masks: The Orientalist Aesthetic in Hip-hop and Black Visual Culture,” Afro-Asian Encounters, Heike Raphael-Hernandez and Shannon Steen eds. (New York: New York University Press, 2006). [read excerpt]

“The Empty Space of Sorority Representation: Spike Lee’s School Daze,” African American Sororities and Fraternities: The Legacy and the Vision, Tamara Brown [et al], (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005). [read excerpt]

“To Capture A Vision Fair: Margaret Walker and the Predicament of the African American Woman Intellectual,” Fields Watered with Blood: Critical Essays on Margaret Walker, Maryemma Graham ed., (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001).

“The Most Famous Person Nobody Knows,” (with Maryemma Graham) Fields Watered with Blood: Critical Essays on Margaret Walker, Maryemma Graham ed., (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001). [read excerpt]


Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, Aimee Carrillo-Rowe, and Miriam Thaggert eds., Sexing the Colorlines: Black Sexualities, Popular Culture, and Cultural Production (a special issue of Poroi: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Rhetorical Analysis and Invention) (7):2 Summer 2011).


The articles I've written thus far cover film representations and the cinema, comic art, critical pedagogy, photography, popular music, fine art, and Black Greek Letter Organizations. I've also done a few book review essays and book reviews on the American Studies movement, Black popular culture, the "spectacular" in film and performance, Black Greek Letter Organizations, popular dance, and film. See below for ordering information or to read excerpts:


   Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, “Celluloid Masks and Retractable Skins: Transforming the Scales of Blackness in Sequential Art”  (Foreword) in 'Toonskin, exh. cat., cur. Kenya(Robinson), ArtSPACE, New Haven, Ct., Saturday, May 11, 2013-Saturday, June 29, 2013, pp. 8-9. 
    [read here]

Interrogating the ‘Look’ of the Gaze/Theorizing a Latina Cinesubjectivity,Women: A Cultural Review, (23):3 (Autumn 2012), 323-345. [read here].

"Black Cat Got Your Tongue? Catwoman, Blackness, and the Alchemy of Postracialism," Journal of Graphic Novel and Comic Book Studies, (2):1 (June 2011). [order here]

"Introduction," Sexing the Colorlines: Black Sexualities, Popular Culture, and Cultural Production (a special issue of Poroi: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Rhetorical Analysis and Invention) (7):2 (July 2011). [read here].

"Spike Lee's Phantasmagoric Fantasy and the Black Female Sexual Imaginary in She Hate Me," Sexing the Colorlines: Black Sexualities, Popular Culture, and Cultural Production (a special issue of Poroi: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Rhetorical Analysis and Invention) (7):2 (July 2011).

“Black Expressive Art, Resistant Cultural Politics, and the (Re)Performance of Patriotism,” Trotter Review, (17):1 (Autumn 2007).[order here]

“We Strive and We Do: The Counterpublic Sphere Work of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority,” Contours: A Journal of Africa and the Diaspora, (3): 2 (Fall 2005). [read here]

“With/Out Sanctuary: Teaching Race, Trauma, and Collective Memory through Photography in a Graduate Humanities Course,” Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice, Issue 10 (Fall 2005).

Creative Works:

“A Poem for the Lynched,” Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice, Issue
10 (Fall 2005). [read here]

Mural done with graffiti artist Lady Pink and UI Studio Arts Students on Display at the Figge Museum.
[view here].

Book Review Essays:

“The Neo-Soul Vibe and the Post-Modern Aesthetic: Black Popular Music and Culture for the Soul Babies of History,” a review essay of Mark Anthony Neal’s What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Public Culture (New York: Routledge, 1998) and Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (New York: Routledge, 2002), American Studies (43): 2 (Spring 2002). [read here]

“What is this ‘New’ in the New American Studies?” a review essay of George Lipsitz’s American Studies in a Moment of Danger (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002) and John Carlos Rowe’s The New American Studies (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), 49th Parallel: A Journal of North American Studies, Issue 12 (Autumn 2003). [read here]


A review of Matthew W. Hughley and Gregory S. Parks eds., Black Greek-letter Organizations 2.0: New Directions in the Study of African American Fraternities and Sororities (Jackson: University Press of Missisisppi, 2011) Journal of African American Studies, Summer 2011 [read here].

A review of Paula Massood, The Spike Lee Reader (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2007) American Studies, American Studies, Volume 50, Number 1/2, Spring/Summer 2009, pp. 252-255 [read here].

A review of Jayna Brown, Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2008) American Studies - Volume 50, Number 1/2, Spring/Summer 2009, pp. 200-201. [read here].

A review of Daphne A. Brooks, Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006) American Studies, (48): 4 (Summer 2009).

A review of Susan Courtney, Hollywood Fantasies of Miscegenation: Spectacular Narratives of Gender & Race (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005) American Studies, (48): 4 (Summer 2009).


Thanks to the Faculty Fellows Speaker Program and University of Arizona for making me a part of their 2009 Black History Month Celebration. They are featuring a talk I gave several years back on my latest book project at their website, which is available via podcast. You will need ITUNES and/or an IPOD to download. Please do send me any comments you have about the talk, which concerns the evolution of DC's Catwoman as seen in graphic novels, comic books, animation, film, and television.


In 2007, I was a part of Diverse Issues in Education's dialogue on Black Greek Letter Organizations. If you are wondering about the relevance of BGLOs in the 21st century, visit the magazine's website for commentary and conversation.

  1. Black Greeks Debate Their Future
  2. The State of Black Greek Letter Organizations


Spring 2010 University of Iowa Black Box Theater Iowa Memorial Union
Hiphop art is coming to Iowa!

Hip-hop journalist and intellectual Harry Allen captured the street culture of NYC with a camera in the 1980s. This exhibit features 40 of Allen’s photographs that represent the emergence of hip-hop music, culture, and politics. Lady Pink, one of the forerunners in graffiti art, paint-bombed NYC subway trains with such artistry that she became a cult figure in the Graffiti/Hip-hop scene. This exhibit includes a digital show of Lady Pink’s work, along with original hip-hop show flyers, album covers, and memorabilia that capture the history of hip-hop as a musical and cultural movement. Two Turntables and a Microphone is guest-curated by Deborah Whaley, UI Assistant Professor of American Studies, and Kembrew McLeod, Associate Professor of Communication Studies.

Visit the exhibition blogsite: