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Haylee Harrell

Assistant Professor

Dr. Haylee C. Harrell (she/they) is a Black feminist theorist working at the intersections of Black Studies, feminist philosophy, African American Literature, and affect studies. Pivotal to Dr. Harrell’s research is their background in playwriting which shapes their research interests as well as their academic writing. Their current book project, tentatively titled Feeling Akin: The Mulatta as a Ghost of the Color-line, relies on the form and structure of a play to enact a black feminist Foucauldian genealogy of the mulatta in the United States. Dr. Harrell reasserts the anachronistic and contradictory concept of the mulatta as a critical figure of forced racial intermixture and anxiety from within, rather than antithetical to, blackness. Through the archival research of historical and artistic accounts of pivotal black thinkers as: Nella Larsen, Adrian Piper, Patricia J. Williams, and Danzy Senna; Dr. Harrell tracks an alternative history of the color line that aims to bridge the divisions between lived experience and academia—between everyday comments (“I don’t feel black enough”) and scholarly sites such as the Beinecke Library at Yale, where they pursued the mulatta’s ghostly traces.

Dr. Harrell is an active part of the Critical Studies of the Americas collective and affiliated faculty in African American Studies. Their primary goal as a black feminist theorist is to encourage students to creatively engage with questions of gender and sexuality through the lens of blackness. As a first-generation student (undergraduate and graduate), Dr. Harrell is passionate about creating a learning environment where students not only explore topics of race/gender/sexuality but also what medium—artistic, creative, academic, or a mixture—they feel most confident expressing their research. Their ability to contextualize difficult feminist and black theories through a creative classroom was recognized by the Center for Women at Emory with the 2015 Women in Excellence Award for Teaching and Pedagogy.


  • Ph.D., Emory University, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 
  • B.A., University of Utah, English  


Honors and Awards:  

  • Lore Metzger Dissertation Prize, Emory University, 2022 
  • Delores P. Aldrige Excellence Award in African American Studies, Emory University, 2021 
  • PhD Completion Fellowship, James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, 2020-2021 
  • Women of Excellence Award for Teaching and Pedagogy, Emory University, 2015 


Research Interests: 

  • Black Feminist Theory 
  • Black Studies 
  • African American Literature 
  • Gender and Feminist Theory 
  • Sexuality Studies 
  • Foucault Studies 
  • Feminist Philosophy 


Courses Taught: 

  • ENGL 3301: Introduction to Literary Studies [The Real and Imaginary Monster]
  • ENGL 3360: Survey of African American Literature [Literature of the Color-Line]
  • ENGL: 3354: Contemporary American Fiction [Interracial Intimacies in American Literature Post-Loving v. Virginia]
  • ENGL 7386: Critical Studies of the Americas Theories and Methods [Engendered Histories: Writing the Archive in Black Literature]
  • ENGL 7396: Topics in Language and Literature [Thinking Black Feminism Otherwise]