Brent Hayes Edwards

Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Columbia University

Brent Hayes Edwards is a Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, as well as the Director of the Scholars-in-Residence Program at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library. His research and teaching focus on topics including African American literature, Francophone literature, theories of the African diaspora, translation studies, archive theory, black radical historiography, cultural politics in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, surrealism, experimental poetics, and jazz.

He is the author of The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Harvard University Press, 2003), which was awarded the John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association, the Gilbert Chinard prize of the Society for French Historical Studies, and runner-up for the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association. With Robert G. O’Meally and Farah Jasmine Griffin, he co-edited the collection Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies (Columbia University Press, 2004). Edwards has edited scholarly editions of classic works by Frederick Douglass, Joseph Conrad, and W. E. B. Du Bois, and he served as the Harlem Renaissance period editor for the revised Third Edition of the Norton Anthology of African American Literature published in 2015. From 2001-2011, Edwards served as co-editor of the journal Social Text.

Edwards’s translations include Michel Leiris’s monumental Phantom Africa (Seagull Books, 2017), for which Edwards was awarded a 2012 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, as well as essays, poems, and fiction by authors including Edouard Glissant, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Sony Labou Tansi, and Monchoachi.

His most recent publications include a scholarly edition of Claude McKay’s last novel, Amiable with Big Teeth, co-edited with Jean-Christophe Cloutier (Penguin Classics, 2017), and the monograph Epistrophies: Jazz and the Literary Imagination (Harvard University Press, 2017).

Current projects include the book Black Radicalism and the Archive, based on the Du Bois Lectures Edwards gave at Harvard in 2015; the restoration of Sweet Willie Rollbar’s Orientation (an experimental film made by Julius Hemphill and the Black Artists Group in 1972); a book on “loft jazz” in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s; and a study entitled Art of the Lecture. Edwards was a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow.