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Dr. Bertram  Ashe
Dr. Bertram Ashe
Professor of English
Africana Studies Advisory Board Member

Professor Ashe’s research focuses on late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century literature and culture. Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles (Agate, 2015), his current book, explores issues of black male identity, black vernacular culture, and black hair by narrating the journey of locking his hair while also exploring the history and cultural resonances of the dreadlock hairstyle in America.

He teaches and writes about contemporary American culture, primarily post-Civil Rights Movement African American literature and culture (often referred to as “post-blackness” or the “post-soul aesthetic”), as well as the black vernacular triumvirate of black hair, basketball, and jazz.

His first book, From Within the Frame: Storytelling in African-American Fiction (Routledge, 2002) tracks the development of the African American “frame text,” from Charles Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman through John Edgar Wideman’s “Doc’s Story,” with chapters that focus on Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man along the way.


Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles (Agate Publishing, June 9, 2015).


“Renegades in the Kitchen,” in The Hair Craft Project catalog (forthcoming)

“Theorizing the Post-Soul Aesthetic” reprinted in special “post-soul black culture” issue of susei tu-shin 29 (summer 2009): 86-102

Theorizing Post-Soul Aesthetic: An Introduction,” African American Review 41.4 2007: 609-23

These—Are—the ‘Breaks’: A Roundtable Discussion on Teaching the Post-Soul Aesthetic,” African American Review.  Volume 41, Winter, 2007: 787-803

Passing as Danzy Senna,” Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art #36 (Spr-Sum, 2002): 125-45.

“’Hair Drama’ on the Cover of Vibe Magazine,” Journal of Race, Gender & Class.  8.3 (2001): 1-14.

"'Under the Umbrella of Black Civilization': A Conversation with Reginal McKnight," African American Review, Vol. 35, No. 3, 427-437 (Autumn 2001)


“Who’s Afraid of Post-Soul Satire?: Touré’s Black Widow Trilogy in The Portable Promised Land,” Post-Soul Satire: Black Identity after Civil Rights (University Press of Mississippi, 2014).

Invisible Dread,” Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities (Cresskill, NY: Hampton Press, 2010).

Post-Soul President: Dreams from My Father and the Post-Soul Aesthetic,” The Obama Effect:  Multidisciplinary Renderings of the 2008 Campaign (New York: SUNY Press, 2010).

“Paul Beatty’s White Boy Shuffle Blues: Jazz Poetry, John Coltrane, and the Post-Soul Aesthetic,” in Thriving on a Riff: Jazz and Blues Influences in African American Literature and Film (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

“Foreword” in Platitudes, by Trey Ellis (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2003): vii-xxvi.

Contact Information
354 Humanities Building
(804) 289-8292
(804) 289-8313 (Fax)
Areas of Expertise
African American Literature and Culture
20th Century American Literature
Black Vernacular Tradition