Vaughn Rasberry studies African American literature, global Cold War culture, the European Enlightenment and its critics, and philosophical theories of modernity. As a Fulbright scholar in 2008-09, he taught in the American Studies department at the Humboldt University Berlin and lectured on African American literature throughout Germany. His current book project, a study of black literary and intellectual history of the post-World War II era, challenges the notion that landmark civil rights initiatives emancipated African American writers from the constraints of writing about racialized experience and prompted their acquiescence in the normative claims of postwar liberalism. Alternatively, his project illuminates how black literary production engages the coordinates of the global Cold War: the discourse of totalitarianism and total war, the formation of the Third World, and the role of communism and other international political currents in the dissolution of Jim Crow and colonial regimes. His article, “Now Describing You: James Baldwin and Cold War Liberalism,” appeared in 2011 in an edited volume titled James Baldwin: America and Beyond (University of Michigan Press).
In addition to his courses for the current academic year, he looks forward to offering seminars such as American Literature and Fascism, The Scramble for Africa in the Making of the Century, and the Postcolonial Cold War: History, Literature, Theory. He also teaches in collaboration with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) and the programs in American Studies and African and African American Studies.