Michael Sawyer

  • Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

Michael Sawyer is Associate Professor of African American Literature & Culture in the Department of English, where he also serves as the Director of Graduate Studies. He was recently appointed the Director of the Graduate Program for Cultural Studies and is an Electus Faculty Fellow in the David C. Fredericks Honors College and a faculty affiliate in Africana Studies. Michael’s work centers itself on a multi-disciplinary approach to studying the revolutionary potential of Black People and developing theories and philosophies of Sovereign Black Being. He has published two monographs, An Africana Philosophy of Temporality: Homo Liminalis (Palgrave:2018) and Black Minded: The Political Philosophy of Malcolm X (Pluto: 2020). He is completing work on The Door of No Return: Being-As-Black (Temple University Press) and a trade biography of Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton entitled Sir Lewis (Legacy Lit/Grand Central Press). Michael is a resident fellow at ONX Studies (NYC and Athens, Greece) where he works on immersive art installations that expand the vocabulary of Black Radical Thought. He is the co-editor of The Journal of French and Francophone Studies, a member of the PMLA Advisory Committee and the editorial boards of Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon and Critical Times.


He holds a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy, an M.A. from the University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations, and a Masters in Comparative Literature and PhD in Africana Studies from Brown University.

Representative Publications

Books in Press

Books in Preparation

  • The Door of No Return: A Phenomenology of Black(ness)
  • Check Point-Lima (Under Review) Literary Fiction
  • If Holden Caulfield Was Black (Literary Fiction)

Single-Authored Articles/Reviews/Chapters in Press

  • “Shattering Perspectives” a review of a Teaching Collection of African Ceramics installed at Gregory Allicar Museum of Art at Colorado State University African Arts Journal (Forthcoming)
  • “Crépuscle with RA Judy: A Review of Sentient Flesh: Thinking in Disorder, Poiēsis in Black” New Formations: A Journal of Culture / Theory / Politics (Forthcoming)
  • Book Review: “Peniel Joseph’s The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.” American Political Thought
  • “Post-Truth, Social Media, and the ‘Real’ as Phantasm” chapter in the volume Relativism and Post-Truth in Contemporary Society: Possibilities and Challenges edited by Steve Fuller, Mikael Stenmark, and Ulf Zackariasson Palgrave Press (ISBN 978- 3319965581) September 2018
  • “Temporalità radicale, realismo fittizio e rivoluzione come contesto” Filosofia politica. 3 Dec 2017. ISBN: 0394-7297. Pp. 445-458
  • “Undoing the Phaedrus: Melville’s Re-Reading of Plato” The C.L.R. James Journal November 2017 ISBN: 2167-4256
  • “Two Silenced Instruments” Front Row Center: Photography by Larry Hulst. Exhibition Catalog: Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs: 2017
  • “Sacrifice” Political Concepts,October 2015
  • Book Review: Archipelago: A Novel by, Monique Roffey Small Axe Salon: 15, Fall 2015
  • “Critical Intervention/Review of Keith Sandiford, Theorizing a Colonial Caribbean- Atlantic Imaginary: Sugar and Obeah” The C.L.R. James Journal 20:1, Fall 2014 (pp. 17-24)

Book Chapters/Articles in Preparation or Under Review

  • “Melville’s Meditation on the Long Shipwreck of the Middle Passage” book chapter in Companion to Melville edited by Wyn Kelley and Christopher Ohge, Wiley Blackwell (Forthcoming Fall 2021)

Research Interests

Africana Political Thought and Philosophy; Post-Colonial Studies; Critical Race Theory; Political Theory; Political Philosophy; Naval History and Tactics; Revolt, Revolution & Rebellion; Literary Theory & Criticism; History of the American, French, & Haitian Revolutions; Slavery; Mass Incarceration; Creative Writing; African American Music: The Italian Renaissance