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Dr. Nathan  Snaza
Dr. Nathan Snaza
Director, Bridge to Success Program
Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Advisory Board Member

My work explores the ways that ideas about what it means to be human have been put to work in educational institutions, especially those that engage language, literacy, and literature. Drawing on work in the fields of posthumanism, new materialisms, queer and feminist theory, and critical ethnic studies, my work both critiques modern histories of schooling linked to humanism, and tries to imagine alternatives.

My first monograph, Animate Literacies: Literature, Affect, and the Politics of Humanism (Duke University Press, 2019), explores how nonhuman actors animate literacy events, and how literacy practices animate subjects and political relations. It does so in part through analyses of literary texts by Toni Morrison, Frederick Douglass, Kate Chopin, Mary Shelley, James Joyce, Paul Preciado, and José Saramago. But it re-situates familiar ideas about reading in wider, weirder networks drawing on ethology, neuroscience, chemistry, affect theory, ecology, and philosophies attentive to the agency of things. Politically, the book traces how the study of literature and literacy have been linked to a colonial capture of the human, and it draws on Sylvia Wynter’s work to imagine alternative futures for politics and literary study. 

My next project, Turning Away from the Light: Endarkenment and the New Esoterism proposes a speculative project for conceptualizing a range of contemporary theories—swirling around objects, systems, and affects—as a new form of esoterism. The old esoterism included practices entangled with but officially excluded from Enlightenment knowledges—magic, numerology, vitalism, alchemy, witchcraft. By exploring literary and artistic texts in which these problems are taken up—Goethe’s Faust, Maryse Condé’s novels about witchcraft, haunted house narratives, and contemporary feminist avant garde music—I explore how “new estoterisms” not only continue a set of esoteric axioms about what knowledge is, they also portend the political and philosophical necessity of moving away from Enlightenment modes of thinking. By drawing on both gothic art and contemporary feminist, queer, and decolonial scholarship, I propose pedagogies oriented toward “endarkenment”: wanderings away from Enlightenment rationality, coloniality, and social control. 

I have co-edited two books of educational theory: Posthumanism and Educational Research and Pedagogical Matters: New Materialisms and Curriculum Studies, as well as three special issues of journals: “Sylvia Wynter, the Human, and the Future of Curriculum Studies” (Curriculum Inquiry),  “School Sucks” (Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy) and “Posthumanisms” (Symploke). I am presently co-editing, with Julietta Singh, a special issue of Social Text entitled “Educational Undergrowth.”


Animate Literacies: Literature, Affect, and the Politics of Humanism. Duke University Press, Thought in the Act series, edited by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi (2019).

Pedagogical Matters: New Materialisms and Curriculum Studies, Ed. with Debbie Sonu, Sarah Truman, and Zofia Zaliwska. Peter Lang Publishing, Counterpoints Series (2016).

Posthumanism and Educational Research, Ed. with John Weaver. Routledge International Perspectives in the Philosophy of Education (2014).


“Dehumanist Education and the Colonial University,” with Julietta Singh; editorial introduction to the special issue, “Educational Undergrowth.” Social Text 39.1 (forthcoming, 2021). 

“On Vagueness and Care: Affect and Literacy.” Reading Research Quarterly (forthcoming). 

“Asexuality and Erotic Biopolitics.” Feminist Formations (forthcoming).

“Ethologies of Education.” Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies 20.3 (2020).

“Biopolitics Without Bodies: Feminism and the Feeling of Life.” Feminist Studies 46.1 (2020).

“Curriculum Against the State: Sylvia Wynter, the Human, and Futures of Curriculum Studies.” Curriculum Inquiry 49.1 (2019).

“‘It’s Called a Hustle, Sweetheart’: #BlackLivesMatter, the Police State, and the Politics of Colonizing Anger in Zootopia,” with Jennifer Sandlin. Journal of Popular Culture 51.5 (2018).

“Aleatory Entanglements: (Post)humanism, Hospitality, and Attunement – A Response to Hugo Letiche.” Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy 14.3 (2017).

“Animal Unconscious: Three Questions.” Studies in Gender and Sexuality 19.1 (2018).

“Posthuman(ist) Education and the Banality of Violence.” Parallax 85. (2017).

“Is John Dewey’s Thought ‘Humanist’?” Journal of Curriculum Theorizing 32.2 (2017).

“Saint Bakhtin, Porous Theorizing, and Proceeding Nonetheless,” with Timothy Lensmire. Dialogic Pedagogy 5 (2017).

“Community at the Extremes: The Death Metal Underground as Being-in-Common,” with Jason Netherton. Metal Music Studies 2.3 (2016).

“School Sucks.” Perspectives Essay. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy 13.1 (2016)

“Leaving the Self Behind.” Helvete Black Metal Theory Journal 3: Bleeding Black Noise (2016)

“Against Methodocentrism in Educational Research” with John Weaver. Educational Philosophy and Theory (2016).

“The Fragility of Ecological Pedagogy: Elementary Social Studies Standards and Possibilities of New Materialism,” with Debbie Sonu. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy 12.3 (2015).

“Departments of Language.” Symploké 23.1-2 (2015)

"The Failure of Humanizing Education in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go." LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory 26.3 (2015).

"The Place of Animals In Politics: The Difficulty of Derrida’s 'Political' Legacy." Cultural Critique 90. (2015).

“Class Time: Spivak’s ‘Teacherly Turn.’” Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices 9.1 (2015)

"'The Reign of Man is Over': The Vampire, The Animal, and the Human in Maupassant's 'Le Horla.'" Symploké 22.1-2. (2014).

"The Death of Curriculum Studies and Its Ghosts." Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy 11.2 (2014).

“Toward a Posthumanist Education” with Peter Appelbaum, Siân Bayne, Dennis Carlson, Marla Morris, Nikki Rotas, Jennifer Sandlin, Jason Wallin, and John Weaver. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (2014)

“The Human Animal Nach Nietzsche: Re-Reading Zarathustra’s Cross-Species Community.” Angelaki: A Journal of the Theoretical Humanities. 18.4 (2013)

“Bewildering Education.” Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy 10.1 (2013)

“Reductionism Redux: The Continuity Between Humans and Other Animals.” Perspectives Essay. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy 10.1. (2013)

“What Teacher Education Can Learn from Blackface Minstrelsy,” with Timothy Lensmire. Educational Researcher, Vol 39, No. 5, (2010) 413-422.

“Abandon Voice? Writing Pedagogy, the Body, and Late Capitalism,” with Timothy Lensmire. InterActions, Vol 2, No. 2, article 3 (2006).

"(Im)Possible Witness: Viewing 'Holocaust on Your Plate,’" Journal for Critical Animal Studies Vol 2, No. 1(2004).

"Reflections Toward Visibility." Bad Subjects special war edition number 63 (2003).


“Critical Pedagogy Beyond the Human.” In Shirley Steinberg and Barry Down, Eds., The SAGE Handbook of Critical Pedagogies (SAGE, 2020).

“Love and Bewilderment: On Education as Affective Encounter.” In Bessie Dernikos, Nancy Lesko, Stephanie D. McCall, and Alyssa Niccolini, Eds., Mapping the Affective Turn in Education: Theory, Research, and Pedagogy (Routledge, 2019). 

“The Earth is Not ‘Ours’ to Save: Bewildering Education and (In)human Agency.” In jan jagodzinski, Ed., Interrogating the Anthropocene: Ecology, Pedagogy, and The Future in Question (Palgrave, 2018).

 “Dangerous Play: Race and Bakhtin in a Graduate Classroom,” with Timothy Lensmire, Rebecca Nathan, Susan Brooks, and Chiara Bacigalupa. In Frances Condon and Vershawn Young, Eds., Performing Anti-Racist Pedagogy in Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication (University Press of Colorado/WAC Clearinghouse, 2016), 211-226.

“#BlackLivesMatter: Racialization, the Human, and Critical Public Pedagogies of Race,” with Jennifer Sandlin. In Alexander Means, Derek Ford, and Graham Slater, Eds. Educational Commons in Theory and Practice: Global Pedagogy and Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

“Bodies, Borders, and the Politics of Attention,” with Debbie Sonu. In Nathan Snaza, Debbie Sonu, Sarah E. Truman, and Zofia Zaliwska, Eds. Pedagogical Matters: New Materialisms and Curriculum Studies (Peter Lang, 2016).

“Toward a Genealogy of Educational Humanism.” In Nathan Snaza and John Weaver, Eds. Posthumanism and Educational Research (Routledge, 2014),  17-29.

“Posthuman(ist) Youth: Control, Play, and Possibilities,” with John Weaver. In Awad Ibrahim and Shirley Steinberg, Eds. Critical Youth Studies Reader (Peter Lang, 2014), 349-359.

“Thirteen Theses on the Question of State in Curriculum Studies.” In Erik Malewski, Ed. Curriculum Studies Handbook- The Next Moment (Routledge, 2009), 43-56.


Symposium editor, “Unthinking Mastery: Dehumanism and Decolonial Entanglements by Julietta Singh.” Syndicate. My introduction and response essays by Olivia Michiko Gagnon, Dorinne Kondo, Jennifer Nash, Parama Roy, and Chad Shomura, are here.

“Implicitly.” Journal of Perpetrator Research 3.1 (2020), 20-28. A Response to Michael Rothberg’s The Implicated Subject (2019).

“Preemptive Logic and the Necessity of Animal Politics.” Symploke 24:1-2 (2016). A Review of two books by Brian Massumi: Ontopower (2015) and What Animals Teach Us About Politics (2014)

Ph.D., University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 2011
Comparative Literature, Education: Curriculum and Instruction
M.Ed., University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 2003
Secondary English and Language Arts Education
B.A., University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 2001
English Literature, and Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, Summa cum laude
Contact Information
323 Ryland Hall
(804) 289-8300
Areas of Expertise
Modern Narrative, primarily British and American
Literary Theory and Continental Philosophy
Social and Cultural Foundations of Education, Critical Pedagogy, Literacy Studies
Sexuality and Gender Studies