Valerie Babb

Andrew Mellon Professor of Humanities in African American Studies and English


Valerie Babb is Andrew Mellon Professor of Humanities at Emory University. She holds a joint appointment in the departments of African American Studies and English. She received her BA from Queens College, City University of New York and her MA and PhD, from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. She has been Professor of English at Georgetown University, Franklin Professor of English at the University of Georgia, and a faculty member of the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College. She teaches courses in African American literature, American literature, and constructions of race in the United States. She is the recipient of a UGA NAACP Mary McLeod Bethune Image Award for teaching and mentoring. Her research explores African American literature and culture, the impact of racial whiteness on a multicultural United States, and the mapping of communities in transition.

Professor Babb co-authored the book Black Georgetown Remembered, and developed the concept for and produced the video by the same name. From 2000-2010 she was editor of the Langston Hughes Review. She has been a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and is the recipient of a W. M. Keck Foundation Fellowship in American Studies. She has lectured extensively in the United States and abroad and presented a Distinguished W. E. B. Du Bois Lecture at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

At present, Professor Babb is at work on a book-length study examining the ways the institution of slavery is engaged by twenty-first century American cultural production. Tentatively titled Unfinished Business, it queries why slavery still bedevils art, performance, literature, and conceptions of citizenship within the United States.


A History of the African American Novel (Cambridge University Press, 2017)