Bio


Vaughn Rasberry studies African American literature, global Cold War culture, the European Enlightenment and its critics, postcolonial theory, 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, Race and the Totalitarian Century, questions the notion that desegregation prompted African American writers and activists to acquiesce in the normative claims of postwar liberalism. Challenging accounts that portray black cultural workers in various postures of reaction to larger forces--namely U.S. liberalism or Soviet communism--his project argues instead that many writers were involved in a complex national and global dialogue with totalitarianism, the defining geopolitical discourse of the twentieth century.

His article, "'Now Describing You': James Baldwin and Cold War Liberalism," appears in an edited volume titled James Baldwin: America and Beyond (University of Michigan Press, 2011). A review essay, "Black Cultural Politics at the End of History," appears in the winter 2012 issue of American Literary History. An article, "Invoking Totalitarianism: Liberal Democracy versus the Global Jihad in Boualem Sansal's The German Mujahid," appears in the spring 2014 special issue of Novel: a Forum on Fiction. For Black History Month, he published an op-ed essay, "The Shape of African American Geopolitics," in Al Jazeera English.

An Annenberg Faculty Fellow at Stanford (2012-14), he has also received fellowships from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

Vaughn also teaches in collaboration with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) and the programs in Modern Thought and Literature, African and African American Studies, and American Studies.

Academic Appointments


  • Associate Professor, English

Administrative Appointments


  • Assistant Professor, Department of English, Stanford University (2010 - Present)

Honors & Awards


  • Annenberg Faculty Fellowship, Stanford University (2013-2015)
  • Early Career Residential Fellowship, Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh (2013-2014)
  • Fulbright Junior Lecturer Award, Department of American Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (2008-2009)
  • Guest Lecturer Award, Tokyo International University (2008)
  • Consortium for Faculty Diversity in Liberal Arts Colleges, Lausanne Graduate Dissertation Fellowship, Willamette University (2007-2008)
  • Walter Blair Dissertation Fellowship, Department of English, University of Chicago (2006-2007)
  • Trustee Fellowship, Humanities Division of the University of Chicago (2001-2006)
  • Trustee Scholarship, College of Arts and Sciences, Howard University (1997-1999)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Faculty participant, Teagle Foundation Project on Collaborative Teaching and the Future of the Humanities, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Faculty Mentor, Stanford Mellon Mays Program
  • Reader, Journal of American Studies
  • Reader, Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary
  • Reader, U.S.-Poland Fulbright Commission

Program Affiliations


  • Modern Thought and Literature

Professional Education


  • Ph.D., The University of Chicago, English language and literature (2009)
  • M.A., The University of Chicago, Humanities (2001)
  • B.A, Howard University, English language and literature (2000)

Stanford Advisees


  • Doctoral Dissertation Reader (AC)
    Claire Grossman, Casey Patterson, Gabriela Salvidea
  • Orals Chair
    Maxwell Suechting
  • Doctoral (Program)
    Mai Wang

All Publications