Abioseh Porter, PhD, Appointed Interim Director of Africana Studies
June 14, 2021
Abioseh Porter, PhD, professor of English, has been appointed to the position of Interim Director of Africana Studies, effective Fall 2021, to lead the planning and implementation of a range of initiatives to increase the visibility of the program both inside and outside the University while developing a Strategic Plan in collaboration with Amelia Hoover Green, PhD, associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
An internal search for a permanent Director of Africana Studies will take place during the 2021-2022 Academic Year.
A comparativist by training, Porter is the recipient of a PhD from the University of Alberta. He joined Drexel University in 1986 as a specialist in literary cultures from the 18th century to the present, with a focus on Africana and Africana-Diaspora writers, post-coloniality, theories of translation and literary existentialism.
Porter has published three books, with a fourth forthcoming, and scores of articles and book chapters. He is currently working on a literary history of Sierra Leone, a translation of Olympe Bhêly-Quénum’s Calls of the Voodoo, as well as a book monograph on alterity in West African fiction.
Porter has delivered many lectures and invited talks both nationally and internationally. He is the founding editor of the Journal of African Literature Association (JALA). Since its inception, JALA has been deemed the premier journal of the African Literature Association and is now published by the prestigious publishing house Taylor & Francis/Routledge.
Porter’s contribution to teaching is just as extensive as his publication record. He has designed and offered a range of courses for Drexel students, including Postcolonial Literatures and The American Tradition in Literature. He has supervised several students’ independent projects on topics spanning from “Post-Civil War American Literature,” “African American Female Self Image: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye” and “The Literary Imagination and the Real: A Study of James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain and The Evidence of Things Not Seen.”
Porter brings to the position of Interim Director of Africana Studies a considerable range of leadership experience, as well as an impressive service record at the departmental, College and University-levels. He served as the Head of the Department of English and Philosophy (2002-2015); member of the African-American Studies Minor (1989-1991); member of The Black Administrators, Faculty and Staff (1986-2005); member of the Advisory Board of Africana Studies (2004-2012); Academic Coordinator of Drexel Minority Institute for underrepresented minority high school students in the Greater Philadelphia Area (1989-1996); and Faculty Advisor for various student organizations, including the Drexel African Students Organization (DASA) and the West Indian Students Chapter. Beyond these major leadership roles, he has been appointed to dozens of committees and task forces, often as Chair.
Porter’s service to his profession is also very extensive. He is a member of a range of professional organizations and served on the National Council for Black Studies. He has also been a reviewer for the American Council of Learned Societies and the Fulbright Scholarship Commission, and he continues to give generously of his time to provide expert assessment of promotion and tenure cases (e.g., The University of Kansas; Virginia Commonwealth University; Indiana University; Penn State University; Case Western Reserve University; SUNY - Stony Brook; and Rutgers University).
Given Porter’s record of accomplishments in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service, it might come as no surprise that he is the recipient of many awards, including “Faculty Member of the Year” by the Drexel Minority Achievement Program; “The Harold M. Myers Award for Distinguished Service,” which recognizes the exceptional commitment and contributions that have benefited the university community; and “The Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.”
As the College of Arts and Sciences is strengthening the Africana Studies program by bringing together a multidisciplinary team of scholars and educators from the College and the University, including the recently completed cluster hire of three tenure stream faculty members in Africana Studies (with joint appointments in the departments of History and English and Philosophy), Porter is uniquely suited to the role of Interim Director.