My name is Imani Perry. I am the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where I also am affiliated with the programs in gender and sexuality studies and jazz studies. I’m the author of seven books, the most recent of which is South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation. In 2000, I earned a Ph.D. in American studies and a law degree from Harvard, and I began my academic career as a law professor who taught contracts and American legal history. Now I am an eclectic scholar and writer of creative nonfiction. My subjects include history, race, gender, literature, and music. In 2021 I was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Intellectual and Cultural History and in 2019 I was named a Pew Fellow in the Arts for literature. I have received a number of awards for my writing, including a 2019 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography for my book Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, which also received the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award. In 2019, I was also awarded the John Hope Franklin Prize for the best book in American studies for May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem, which also received the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award for Nonfiction. I’ve written essays, reviews, and profiles for The New York Times, Harper’s, The Paris Review, New York, and The Atlantic.
Unsettled Territory reexamines America’s past and present through a literary lens. Sign up to get it in your inbox.
Sign up for this newsletter.