Collegiate Affiliation

Melanie Abeygunawardana is a scholar of contemporary Asian American and African American literature and culture. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2022 with a certificate in Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies. From 2022-23, she was the Shauna M. Stark '76, P'10 Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University's Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women. Her book manuscript, “Dissenting Flesh: Racial Feeling in an Age of Colorblindness,” examines how Asian American and African American writers in the post-Civil Rights era challenge the enduring legal fiction of colorblindness, which has always relied on pitting Black and Asian people against each other. These writers not only critique colorblindness’s failures to remediate structural racism, but also reveal the disavowed fantasies of raced and gendered materiality—of an overly enfleshed Blackness and a synthetic, artificial Asianness—that secure the formally race-free subject of the law. In contrast to liberal abstraction, these authors find literary and affective strategies that spotlight materiality as a site of both racial dispossession and racial resistance. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Representations, the Routledge Companion to Queer Literary Studies, and n+1.


Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • PhD: English, University of Pennsylvania
  • AB: English and Literary Arts (Honors), Brown University


  • Asian American literature
  • African American literature
  • Critical race theory
  • Comparative and relational approaches to race
  • Theories of affect, feeling, and emotion
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Queer theory
  • Critical and literary theory