Adrienne Brown

Adrienne Brown
Associate Professor
Walker 401
Ph.D., Princeton University, 2011
Teaching at UChicago since 2011
Research Interests: 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 perception as shaped by the built environment. My teaching and research interests include critical race studies, architecture and urban studies, American studies, Modernism, postmodernism, the Harlem and Chicago Renaissances, popular culture, visual culture, and sound studies. I've also taught in the Chicago studies program here at U of C.

With Valerie Smith, I co-edited the volume Race and Real Estate, an interdisciplinary collection rethinking narratives of property and citizenship. My book, The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race recovers the skyscraper’s drastic effects not only on the shape of the city but the racial sensorium of its residents. I am working on a new book that charts the impact of the U.S.’s move to mass homeownership in 20th century on how Americans experienced residential space as a social, spatial, and, most significantly, a racial unit. I'm also working with Prof. Britt Rusert to collect and publish W.E.B. Du Bois's short fiction.

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