Noted biographer and scholar of African American literature and Black feminist studies Shanna Greene Benjamin will join the Wake Forest University faculty as professor of African American Studies in July.
An accomplished scholar and academic leader, Benjamin comes to Wake Forest from Grinnell College where she was a professor of English and associate dean of the College. Prior to her tenure at Grinnell, Benjamin was a member of the faculty at her undergraduate alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University, where she also directed the university’s honors college. She is the recipient of a number of fellowships and awards including most recently an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship and a Howard Foundation fellowship. Her recent biography of the distinguished scholar and literary critic Nellie Y. McKay, Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay, was selected as one of the best reads of 2021 by Ms. Magazine.
“Shanna Benjamin is a superb teacher-scholar. We are thrilled she will be joining our exciting new African American Studies program and the University as a whole. Her commitment to empowered student learning is tremendous, as is her intellectual reach. Her career accomplishments as a scholar of African American literature are truly impressive, and her recent biography of Nellie McKay is pathbreaking,” said Dean of the College Michele Gillespie.
Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities and founding director of the Program in African American Studies Corey D. B. Walker said, “We are delighted to have Shanna join our intellectual community. Not only is she one of the nation’s leading scholars in African American literary studies, she has a profound commitment to teaching and mentoring undergraduate students and is dedicated to building a signature African American studies intellectual community at Wake Forest.”
Benjamin is equally excited to come to Wake Forest. “I’m simply over the moon about joining the Wake Forest University faculty and have found myself especially energized by the synergy between my professional commitments—outstanding college teaching, deep student engagement, and inclusive modes of learning—and Wake Forest’s teacher-scholar ideal. African American Studies at Wake Forest is emerging as a premier thought center, and I’m eager to add my expertise in Black literature and culture, and experience building programs that foster belonging and cultivate student research, to this burgeoning center for the study of Black life.”
“In my teaching, advising, and mentoring, I look for the light in my students, and pay particular attention to the things that make each one unique,” said Benjamin who received an award for excellence in her support of students and student affairs at Grinnell College. “I’m excited to work with Wake Forest students in a way that makes them feel seen and supported as they develop their intellectual and personal gifts in living our Pro Humanitate ideal.”
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