Brian Baaki

Postdoctoral Fellow

Patterson 430
Office Hours
Wednesday 12:00pm-2:00pm


Ph.D., City University of New York, Graduate Center, 2016.

Academic Summary

Brian Baaki specializes in colonial through nineteenth-century American Literature and African American Literature. His primary critical interests include print culture studies, critical race studies, and Black Atlantic studies. He is at work on a book manuscript titled A Dark Record: Criminal Discourse and African American Literature, 1721-1864, currently under contract to the University Press of Mississippi. This project has a dual aim. It charts the emergence and traces the evolution of a central figure in American culture, the myth of the black criminal, and argues for the importance of criminal discourse in the making of an early African American literature. Articles derived from this work have appeared in the journals American Periodicals and The New England Quarterly. Prior to his current fellowship, Dr. Baaki's research was supported by a year-long fellowship in African American and African Diaspora Literature at Rutgers University. He received his Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center, where his dissertation was awarded "The Melvin Dixon Prize for the Best Dissertation in African American Studies."

Selected Publications

Book Manuscript Under Contract

  • A Dark Record: Criminal Discourse and African American Literature, 1721-1864 (Under contract to the University Press of Mississippi)


  • "White Crime and the Early African American Press: Elements of Reprinting and Reporting in New York's Freedom's Journal," American Periodicals 29.2 (Fall 2019): 121-134. 
  • "African American Crime and Physiognomic Detection in Herman Melville's Benito Cereno," Clues: A Journal of Detection 35.2 (Fall 2017): 100-110.
  • "Circulating the Black Rapist: Sketches of the Life of Joseph Mountain and Early American Networks of Print," The New England Quarterly 90.1 (March 2017): 36-68.


  • Recent Presentations
  • "Cotton Mather and the Construction of the African American Criminal." The Society of Early Americanists Special Topics Conference: Religion and Politics in Early America, Washington University in St. Louis: March 2018.
  • "Crime and the Creation of the African American Press." 33rd Annual MELUS Conference: Underground Histories, Cincinnati, OH: March 2019.