Adrienne Brown

Adrienne Brown - Credit Anjali Pinto
Associate Professor in English and Race, Diaspora and Indigeneity
Walker 401
Ph.D., Princeton University, 2011
Teaching at UChicago since 2011
Research Interests: Critical Race Studies | Cultural Studies | Historicism (Old and New) | African American Literature | Twentieth-Century American Literature | Contemporary Literature | Literature and the Arts | The Novel | Urban Studies


I specialize in American and African American cultural production in the twentieth century, with an emphasis on the history of racial perception. My teaching and research interests include critical race studies, architecture and spatial studies, American studies, Modernism, Post-45, the Harlem and Chicago Renaissances, popular culture, visual culture, and sound studies.

With Valerie Smith, I co-edited the volume Race and Real Estate (Oxford, 2015), an interdisciplinary collection rethinking narratives of property and citizenship. My first book, The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race (Johns Hopkins, 2017)—winner of the Modernist Studies Association’s 2018 First Book Prize—recovers the skyscraper’s drastic effects not only on the shape of the city but the racial sensorium of its residents. My most recent book, The Residential is Racial: A Perceptual History of Mass Homeownership (Stanford , 2024), uses literary and bureaucratic archives to chart how mass homeownership changed the definition, perception, and value of race. My writing has also appeared in Designo, Curbed, Jewish Currents, Harvard Design Magazine, Foreign Policy, and Public Books.

I serve as the Faculty Director of Arts + Public Life, a dynamic hub of exploration, expression, and exchange fostering neighborhood vibrancy through the arts on the South Side of Chicago.

Select Publications

  • “The Disenchanted Literature of Homeownership, 1922 to 1968” Timelines of American Literature, eds. Cody Marrs & Chris Hager (J. Hopkins UP, 2019)
  • “Appraisal Narratives: Reading Race on the Midcentury Block” American Quarterly, June 2018, Vol 70.2 (June 2018)
  • “The Architecture of Racial Phenomena” Log 42, Special Issue: Phenomenology against Architectural Phenomenology, (March 2018)
  • The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race (Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2017)
  • Race and Real Estate (Oxford UP, 2015) - Co-editor with Valerie Smith
  • “We Wear the White Mask: John Cheever Writes Race” Modern Fiction Studies, March 2018
  • "Hard Romping: Zora Neale Hurston, White Women, and the Right to Play” Twentieth Century Literature, September 2018
  • "A History of Building: A Smithsonian History of African-American Architecture” Disgeno, Winter 2016/17
  • “The Strain of the Voice: Vocal Expression in Hip Hop” The Oxford Companion to Hip Hop eds. Justin Barton & Jason Oakes (Oxford UP)
  • “W.E.B. Du Bois’s ‘The Princess Steel’”—Co-written with Britt Rusert.  PMLA, “Little Known Documents,” Vol 130.3 (May 2015) 819-82
  • “The Black Skyscraper” American Literature, Vol. 85:3 (September 2013) 513-561
Subject Area: Media Studies