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Valerie BabbAndrew 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.

Her most recent book is The Book Of James: The Power, Politics, and Passion of LeBron. Among her other publications are A History of the African American Novel and Whiteness Visible: The Meaning of Whiteness in American Literature and Culture. She co-authored the book Black Georgetown Remembered, and developed 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.

Babb was co-PI for a one million-dollar Mellon Foundation grant, “Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District.” The Penn Center, a historic organization that sits on the campus of what was once the Penn School, one of the nation’s first schools for formerly enslaved people, was the site of a study-away course funded by the grant in which students from area universities engaged with members of the Gullah Geechee communities and artists, in order to learn more about Sea Islands history, culture, and efforts to preserve the land and legacies of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.

Professor Babb teaches courses in African American literature, American literature, Early Black Print Culture, 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. She is a strong believer in interdisciplinary learning and getting students outside the classroom whenever possible.



Selected Books:

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


  • African American Novels and Popular Culture