Jermaine Singleton was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois, studied political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign (B.A. 1996), then moved on to English literature and criticism at the University of Illinois at Chicago (M.A., 1999) and the University of Minnesota (Ph.D., 2005), where he was also a Martin Ruud Dissertation Completion Fellow.
Professor Singleton is currently working on Cultural Melancholy: American Modernity, Impossible Mourning and Ritual, a book that explores literary and cultural representations of un-mourned social loss, hidden affect, and ritual from the late nineteenth century to the present to address the persistence of “race” and racism. Challenging scholarship that calls for the clinical separation of ethnic studies and psychoanalysis, Singleton develops a theory of “cultural melancholy” that provides a lens for exploring how modern ritual practices construct and link racialized subject-formations across time and social space in relation to hidden affect.
Singleton’s essays, which interrogate the intersections between race and melancholia, have appeared in College Literature, MAWA Review and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain: Historical and Critical Essays (2005). His essay on pedagogy, affect and racialization appeared in The Journal of the Midwest Modern Languages Association.
Despite efforts to build a more inclusive age of multiculturalism, U.S. clamor for change is haunted by the age of racial, gender, and sexual conservatism. At the same time and due to the merging of global economies, we are faced with increasing competition and a demanding need for authentic collaboration on all fronts of our lives. It is clear that our attempts to work together require more critical thinking about the ways the seen and the unseen inform racial identity and race relations. As such, my teaching, like my research, is unabashedly post-structuralist and interdisciplinary. My courses draw on an assortment of literary and cultural representations of everyday life, queer theories of identity formation, and psychoanalytic theories of psychic life to illuminate the ways social, material, and non-representational forms and conditions shape how we see ourselves and engage in the world. Students who take my courses can expect: to develop a penchant for questioning binary logic, linear notions of history, and absolute truths; a deeper understanding of the role of power in the production and consumption of texts; insight into how and the ends to which we have constructed our world in different ways at different historical and cultural moments; invitations to see history as a fictional narrative with real effects; learning contexts designed to understand and, depending on the agency of the student, escape the tyranny of the historical and local.
“English majors are good at deciding why and when one should engage and, moreover, defining the terms of engagement. These critical consumers and producers of texts take up tasks with a characteristic shrewdness and dexterity, considering audience and purpose at every step along the way. At the end of the day, deep training in textual cultural criticism prepares the English major to situate knowledge within the context of broader social and historical dynamics. This awareness is a prerequisite for discernment and effective professional and civic engagement across differences and contexts … English majors are better equipped to solve problems and navigate ongoing change with insight and purpose.”