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Department of English
University of Mississippi

Richard Purcell

Rich Purcell

I research, teach, and write about film and media, with a particular interest in Black literature, poetry, music and other forms of Black performance and visual art. Secondary areas of interest are aesthetic theory, media and sound studies, critical theory and Black studies.

My first book Race, Ralph Ellison and American Cold War Intellectual Culture, explored how race, and particularly the debate over “the Negro Problem” in American literature, functioned generatively for US State anticommunist ideology and global hegemony yet also allowed for counter hegemonic democratic ideas to emerge from Black writers during the cultural Cold War. I’ve also co-edited and contributed to books about Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams from My Father and the intersections of music, technology, and culture. My writing and research have appeared in CLS, Jump Cut, ALH, boundary 2, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Public Books and other places.

I am currently pursing two interconnected book projects. The first investigates the intertwined histories of independent/experimental cinema and graffiti writing culture in New York City to talk about public art and the legacies of radical politics, the cultural and political economies of “watching”, the rise of corporate telecommunications networks and the surveillance state during the Long Seventies. The other investigates how the social and economic discourses of market liberalization influenced the way black musicians, novelists and performances artists think about the ontological status of the “work” of art as well as their own status as art workers from the late-1980s into the Great Recession.