Alex Alston is a sixth year Ph.D. Candidate and Provost’s Diversity Fellow in the English and Comparative Literature department. His research explores chattel slavery and its afterlives, anti-colonial theories of the Human, and folk aesthetics through nineteenth & twentieth century Afro-American and Afro-diapsoric literature, especially the (neo)slave narrative and the novel, with a particular attention to questions of genre and geography. His dissertation, “Animal Ambivalence: Black Literature and the Discourse of Species,” was awarded the 2022-2023 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Therein, he tracks some of the ways that Afro-American and Afro-diasporic authors have theorized and represented nonhuman animals and the concept of nonhuman animality from the slave narrative genre through the late twentieth century novel, using black ecofeminist methods to place the work of these creative intellectuals in conversation with contemporary black studies.
Alex has taught courses on African-American history and literature at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, NY as well as the University of California, Riverside, where he was a doctoral student in the English Department before coming to Columbia. He holds a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from Columbia, each in black studies.