Irvin Joseph Hunt

Assistant Professor

Research Interests

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 of the Black Cooperative Movement, 1890-The Present 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 as arenas to experiment with innovative ways of forming a social movement without investing in 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)

Awards and Honors

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

Courses Taught

  • Mourning in Comic Time (ENG 553)
  • Black Literature in America from the Beginnings to Today (ENG 150 / AFRO 105)
  • 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)

Additional Campus Affiliations

Assistant Professor, English

Recent Publications

Hunt, I. J., Nishikawa, K., Callahan, C., & Entin, J. (Eds.) (2020). How Literature Understands Poverty. American Literature.

Hunt, I. J. (2020). Unco-Opted: Cooperative Economies as Counter Surveillance. In African American Literature: In Transition, 1940-50 Cambridge UP .

Hunt, I. J. (2019). Review of Progress Compromised: Social Movements and the Individual in African American Postmodern Fiction. American Literary History.

Hunt, I. J. (2017). Not an Invitation, but a Warning. Public Books.

Hunt, I. J. (2016). On Ava Duvernay. Public Books.

View all publications on Illinois Experts