Irvin Joseph Hunt III

Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • African American cultural history, cooperative economics, social movement theory, US Leftist radicalism, political theory, performance studies, humor studies

Research Description

  • My forthcoming manuscript Before the Utopia: A Cultural History ofthe Black Cooperative Movement, 1890-1977  uncovers how four generations of African American artists—W. E. B. Du Bois, George Schuyler, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, and their circles—established local cooperatives as alternatives to global capital. I argue that these artists used cooperatives to experiment with innovative ways of forming a social movement beyond the promise of progress. One question inspired almost unthinkable forms of activism: where do you move to when you're not trying to move to a better tomorrow? 


  • Ph.D., Columbia University (2014); M.A., University of California, Berkeley (2007); B.A., Morehouse College (2005)

Distinctions / Awards

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in African American Literature, Rutgers University, New Brunswick (2016-17)
  • Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship (2017-18)


  • The End of Poverty in the African American Novel (ENG 461)
  • Writing about Literature: Love and Sound in the Age of Consumption (ENG 300)
  • American Literature after 1945 (ENG 452)
  • Afro-American Literature I & II (ENG 259 & 260)
  • The American Novel since 1914 (ENG 251)
  • Art in US Social Movements since 1940 (ENG 553): Graduate Seminar


Book Contributions

  • "Unco-Opted: Cooperative Economics as Counter Surveillance." African American Literature: In Transition, 1940-50. Cambridge UP, 2019. 30,000 words.
  • "‘There Wont Be Inny Show Tonite’: Humoring the Returns of Scopic Violence in Suzan-Lori Parks’s Venus." History and Humor: British and American Perspectives. Ed. Barbara Korte and Doris Lechner. Bielfeld, Germany: Transcript Press, 2013. 171-92.

Journal Articles

Special Issues of a Journal

  • Hunt, Irvin, Kinohi Nishikawa, Joseph Entin, and Clare Callahan. How Literature Understands Poverty. Spec. iss. of American Literature (2020):

Website Articles


  • "Water and Blood." Rev. of Progress Compromised: Social Movements and the Individual in African American Postmodern FictionAmerican Literary History (2019):
  • "The Demos of Democracy ." Rev. of The Ethics of Swagger & The Time Is Always Now | American Literature | (2015): 622-24.

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