Irvin Joseph Hunt

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Personal profile

Research Interests

20th century and contemporary African American cultural history, cooperative economics, humor studies, social movement theory, performance studies, and affect theory. 

My forthcoming manuscript, Dreams of the Present: Time, Aesthetics, and the Black Cooperative Movement will be the first book length study of the grassroots role American artists played in establishing cooperatives, businesses owned by their patrons, who democratically distribute the collective surplus. With material from over 27 archives across the US, the book uncovers how four generations of African American artists, in particular—W. E. B. Du Bois, George Schuyler, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and their circles—established local cooperatives as alternatives to global capital. Providing four new concepts that identify innovations to social movement development--sustained incipience, necromance, planned failure, and pluriprsence--I argue that these luminaries experimented with ways of forming a social movement beyond the promise of progress. Where do you move to, they asked, when not to a better tomorrow? In the end I show how one of the most remarkable mass movements in American history profoundly speaks to the challenges of our time. 


  • Ph.D., Columbia University (2014)
  • M.A., University of California, Berkeley (2007)
  • B.A., Morehouse College (2005)


  • Introduction to Literature and Culture (ENG 200)
  • Mourning in Comic Time (ENG 553)
  • Black Literature in America from the Beginnings to Today (ENG 150 / AFRO 105)
  • The End of Poverty in the African American Novel (ENG 461)
  • Writing about Literature: Love and Sound in the Age of Consumption (ENG 300)
  • American Literature after 1945 (ENG 452)
  • Afro-American Literature I & II (ENG 259 & 260)
  • The American Novel since 1914 (ENG 251)


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