Bio/Info

Short Official Bio:

A former journalist, Sean M. Kennedy is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, investigating questions of global political economy, governance, and social relations; decolonization; and cultural and media form. He holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Rutgers University–Newark, a B.A. in English and modern studies from the University of Virginia, and taught at Medgar Evers College for two years. His dissertation re-reads the gangster genre as a formation of global racial capitalism and settler colonialism, turning away from the dominant critical focus on white-ethnic mafias in Italy and the United States. It features case studies set in Mumbai, Johannesburg, and New York City.

Longer Official Bio:

A former journalist for such publications as New York magazine and The Advocate, the national LGBTQ resource, Sean M. Kennedy is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, investigating questions of global political economy, governance, and social relations; decolonization; and cultural and media form. He holds an M.F.A. in creative writing (fiction) from Rutgers University–Newark, a B.A. in English and modern studies from the University of Virginia, and taught at Medgar Evers College for two years (and before that at Lehman College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and Rutgers–Newark).

Sean’s dissertation, Original Gangsters: Genre, Crime, and the Violences of Settler Democracy, re-reads the gangster genre as a formation of global racial capitalism and settler colonialism, turning away from the dominant critical focus on white-ethnic mafias in Italy and the United States. In this expanded context, he argues that the gangster genre, in a template for all influential entertainment genres, does important work for the maintenance of inequality at various scales by erasing the role of institutions in shaping historical truths toward liberal political, economic, and social ends. Indeed, this “genre work,” as Sean calls it, has helped reproduce the changing-same of liberal modernity over the last two centuries. The dissertation is anchored by case studies set in Mumbai, Johannesburg, and New York City.

For this project, he’s received several Graduate Center grants for archival research in India and South Africa and, in 2018, the Calder Dissertation Year Fellowship. Sean’s teaching, meanwhile, was recognized with the 2014 Diana Colbert Award for Innovative Teaching from the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in English, and, from 2013 to 2018, he served as the coordinator of advocacy and education for the CUNY Adjunct Project. He is currently an elected member of the Doctoral Students’ Council of three years’ standing.

In addition to numerous public writings, Sean’s published in Social Text and presented at and organized sessions for the conferences of the Modern Language Association, American Comparative Literature Association, American Studies Association, Cultural Studies Association, Critical Ethnic Studies Association, and Caribbean Studies Association, among other scholarly and activist gatherings.

Raised in the suburbs of New York and Washington, D.C., he lives in the East Village with his partner of nine years, on the same block as artist David Wojnarowicz’s last residence.

First-Person Addendum:

I welcome inquiries via my Gmail (kennedysean), and check out my public notebook, otherwise known as Twitter: @slicksean.

And see my earlier websites for archived content, including blog posts: the first, established in 2010 (though some elements tweaked over the years), and the second, on the CUNY Academic Commons, established in 2014. This website established April 2017.

Thank you for visiting and reading.

Me at the University of the Witwatersrand Historical Papers archive on the last stretch of my six-week research trip to South Africa, July-August 2015.
At the University of the Witwatersrand Historical Papers archive, August 2015.