Hadji Bakara



Research Interests: 

American and global Anglophone literatures of the 20th century; human rights; poetry and poetics; literature and empire; moral anthropology.

Graduation Year: 


Dissertation Title: 

“An Empire of Dignity: A Literary History Human Rights in the Twentieth-Century"


“Poetry in the Shadow of Human Rights” American Literary History (Forthcoming 2016). 


Hadji Bakara is a PhD candidate and Mellon Foundation Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He has previously been a Dissertation Fellow at the Harry Ransom Center and at the Columbia University Library research Center. He teaches classes in transnational American literature, global literatures, and literature and human rights. In 2015 he was the recipient of both a Human Rights Graduate Lectureship Award and a Human Rights Doctoral Research Award from the Pozen Center for Human Rights at the University of Chicago. His dissertation in progress, “An Empire of Dignity: A Literary History of Human Rights in the Twentieth-Century” traces the impact of five representative figures –– the refugee, the witness, the prisoner, the dissident, and the legislator –– across the literature of the twentieth and early twenty–first century. Working closely with the archives of P.E.N and Amnesty International, the project brings institutional and intellectual histories of human rights to bear on fresh readings of Joan Didion, Adrienne Rich, V.S. Naipaul, Hannah Arendt, Julio Cortázar, Seamus Heaney, Bessie Head, Czeslaw Milosz, Archibald MacLeish, W.H. Auden, Denise Levertov, Luisa Valenzuela, Nadine Gordimer, J.M. Coetzee, Mahmoud Darwish, John Berger, Bobby Sands, Margaret Atwood, C.K. Williams, and many more. I am also currently at work on collaborative research project with Maggie Taft of Washington University on the entwined histories of world literature, the world economy, and twentieth-century design.

Teaching Experience: 

Stand–alone courses:
  • Literature and Human Rights
  • America and the World: An Intro to Transnational Literature
Teaching assistant
  • American Culture During WWII
  • Intro to Poetry
  • Reading Freud
  • The City in American Literature
  • Intro to Fiction II
  • Intro to Modernism
  • Intro to Cultural Studies