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Andrew Belton

Assistant Professor

Address: Morrill 104A
Phone:  405-744-2964


Ph.D., English & Comparative Lit., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.A., English & Comparative Lit., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A., English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University


Areas of Interest & Expertise
  • African American Literature

  • Aesthetics

  • Comparative Literature

  • Critical Theory & Cultural Studies

  • Black Study & Hip-Hop Studies

  • Literary Theory

Recent Courses Taught
  • Hip Hop in America (Honors): The Jay-Z Blueprint (Spring 2019)

  • Territory: Oklahoma in the Black Imagination (Spring 2019)

  • African American Literature (Fall 2018)

Selected Publications
  • “Dreaming of ‘Life After Death’ When You’re ‘Ready to Die’: The Notorious B.I.G. and the Sonic Potentialities of Black Afterlife,” Solicited for Afterlife in the African Diaspora. Mae G. Henderson, Jeanne Scheper, eds. In preparation.

  • “Forum: The Academic Department as an ‘Enabling Infrastructure’.” PMLA, Volume 133, Number 5. October 2017.

Selected Conference Presentations
  • "‘Where Did Our Love Go?’: Lauryn Hill and The Possibility of Critical Reception,” Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2019.

  • “Dreaming of ‘Life After Death’ When You’re ‘Ready to Die’: Notorious B.I.G. and the Sonic Construction of Black Afterlives,” Northeast Popular/American Culture Association Conference, Amherst, Massachusetts, 2017.

  • “Sutter’s Ghost, Crawley’s Gun, Diamond Reynolds’s Cell Phone: A (Piano) Lesson in Law Enforcement and How to Realize #BlackLivesMatter,” The August Wilson Society’s An August Occasion: A National Conference on the Life and Legacy of August Wilson, Howard University, Washington, D.C., 2016.

  • “The Luxury of Consciousness: Some Horrors of Being Human and Living with ‘The Dead’ in James Joyce’s Dubliners,” 13th Annual Graduate Association for Comparative Literature Students Conference: The Extra-Human, Austin, Texas, 2016.

Awards and Recognition
  • Linda Wagner Martin Dissertation Award, Department of English & Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2018.

  • Graduate Service Award, Royster Society of Fellows, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2012.

  • Thomas S. and Caroline H. Royster Jr. Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007-2012.

Current Research

Hip Hop Illiterate: Hermeneutics for the Future of Literary Theory and Criticism (book manuscript in progress)


My project puts the aesthetic techniques and critical reading practices of the hip hop emcee at the center of a millennial theory of African American literature study and cultural criticism. In contrast to earlier work that has either emphasized the emcee’s lyrics as an extension of conventional Western poetics or applied conventional scholarly approaches to interpreting hip hop’s literary production, my research establishes the procedures through which emcees create their own theories of reading and literacy alongside practices of critical evaluation and interpretation. Positioning “hip hop concept albums” as a novel form of literary production, my project sets prominent emcees like Rakim, Nas, and Lauryn Hill in critical conversation with canonical black writers the likes of Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Alice Walker, arguing that each of these writers deconstruct and restructure U.S. national narratives by imagining the nation as a by-product of its sound(s) and sounding practices. Ultimately, the project theorizes a hip hop hermeneutic that read shifts in the concepts of literature and literary interpretation as transformative of the role of the literary critic in the new millennium and suggestive of an emergent and speculative methodology for the future of literary study.


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