Skip to content
Michelle Commander

Michelle Commander

Associate Professor


Michelle D. Commander teaches courses and conducts research on twentieth and twenty-first century African American literature, cultural studies, diasporic literatures, and Black social movements. Commander spent the 2012-2013 school year in Accra, Ghana, as a Fulbright Lecturer/Researcher, where she taught at the University of Ghana, and completed follow-up ethnographic research for her book, Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic (Duke UP, 2017). Her current research centers on the function of speculative ideologies and science in Black American cultural production. Commander’s research agenda has been supported by The Ford Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and several UTK awards.


M.S., Florida State University
M.A., Ph.D., University of Southern California


Representative articles

  • “The Space for Race: Black Exile and the Rise of Afro-Speculation.” ASAP /Journal. (Accepted for publication in September 2016)
  • Facing my Fear: Assault Was an Abstract Concept.” The Guardian. August 12, 2016.
  • “Satirical Flights.” Avidly/Los Angeles Review of Books. July 27, 2016
  • “Ghana at Fifty: Moving toward Kwame Nkrumah’s Pan-African Dream.” American Quarterly59.2 (2007): 421-441.
  •  “Language Matters: Hurricane Katrina and Media Responsibility.” Hurricane Katrina: Response and Responsibilities. Ed. John Brown Childs. Santa Cruz, CA: New Pacific Press, 2005. 92-94(with co-author, Wendy Cheng).

Reviews and Entries

  • “Mamie Elizabeth Garvin Fields.” The African American National Biography. Eds. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Higginbotham. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Review of Enter the New Negroes: Images of Race in American Culture, by Martha Jane Nadell. Journal of Popular Culture 38.6 (2005): 1104-1105.

Awards, Honors & Grants

  • UTK's Office of Research, SARIF Foreign Travel Grant to France, 2016
  •  College of Arts and Sciences' Diversity Leadership Award, 2015-2016
  • Hodges Summer Research Grant, University of Tennessee, 2011-2016
  • UTK Department of English’s John C. Hodges Teaching Award for Assistant Professors, 2014-2015
  • UTK Department of English’s Hodges Summer Research Grant, 2011-2015
  • Fulbright Foundation’s Research/Lecturing Grant: Ghana, 2012-2013
  • Tennessee Humanities Center Fellowship, 2012-2013 (Declined)
  • UTK’s Office of Research, SARIF Foreign Travel Grant to Dublin, Ireland, 2011
Michelle Commander

Contact Information

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.