Zay Dale


Areas of Expertise

20th Century African American Literature, Black Masculinity, Black and White Literary Racial Spaces, Slave Textiles, Black Trans Feminism, Transnational African American Literature, and Irish Drama.


Zay Dale is a Ph.D. Candidate and a recipient of a University Presidential Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. He studies black masculinity and the aesthetics of black violence in Early to Mid-20th Century black texts. He is interested in examining the radical irruptions of black violence in 20th Century black texts, and studies how, where, and why violence happens in black texts. Some questions that guide Zay’s research are: Do we get restorative justice through the aesthetics of black violence? Where do the facts of black death and fiction meet? How does the fact of black death bleed into its fictionalization? What is the distinction between black violent form and content in literature? Does black death have to be qualified as a spectacle once its narrative is reclaimed by black people? Can black violence be understood as un/gendered? Why do we need to transmute black death into literature? What is the distinction between violence of the flesh and violence of the skin, or violence of the physical and violence of the metaphysical?  

Recent Scholarly Activity


“The Essence of the Black Man: An Exploration of Black Masculinity through Double Consciousness in Native Son.” In Reimagining Black Masculinities and Public Space: Essays on Race, Gender, and Social Activism. Editors: Dr. Mika'il Petin and Dr. Mark C. Hopson. (Lexington Press), November 2020.

Select Conference Presentations

‘You Got Ether in Those Clothes’: Black Textiles and Radical Irruptions, Midwest Modern Language Association (MMLA), Minneapolis, Minnesota. November 2022. Panel Organizer: African American Literature. 

“Who Sees Ghosts? Loss and Death of Whiteness in The Hairy Ape,” Eugene O’Neill Society International Conference, Suffolk University. July 2022.

‘Sing for us a Negro Spiritual’: Black Radical Irruptions in Sean O’Casey’s The Silver Tassie, American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS), Virtual National Conference. April 2022.

“Black Bodies and Catastrophic Spaces: Reading Their Eyes Were Watching God as Climatic Injustice Fiction,” Cornell University. April 2022.  

“White Space, Black Bodies: The Creation of Black Violence in Native Son,” Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL), Atlanta, Georgia. February 2022.

“The Black Male Utopic in Imperium in Imperio,” Midwest Modern Language Association (MMLA), Milwaukee, Wisconsin. November 2021. (Organizer and Presenter). 

“Master's Program as Uncommonplace: Navigating Differences of Race.” Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), Milwaukee, Wisconsin. March 2020.

“A Fragmented Neurotic Being: Biracial Bodies in Nella Larsen's Passing,” Midwest American Culture Conference (MPCA/ACA), Cincinnati, Ohio. October 2019. 

“The Immobility of Time and Liminal Memory in Marcel Proust's Swann's Way,” College English Association Conference (CEA), New Orleans, Louisiana. March 2019.