Tavia Nyong’o is Chair and Professor of Theater & Performance Studies, Professor of American Studies, and Professor of African-American Studies at Yale University. He was previously acting Chair and Associate Professor of Performance Studies at New York University. His current research and teaching interests span black queer cultural and performance studies, contemporary art and aesthetic theory, speculative genres, afrofuturism, and black sound studies. Nyong’o’s first book, The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory (2009) won the Errol Hill award for the best book in black theater and performance studies. In it he showed how ‘race mixing’ had been alternately presented as the solution to anti-black racism and a threat to white supremacy in the nineteenth century, arguments sustained by locating ‘amalgamation’ in some distant past or future. Black performance, he argued, with its insistent relationship to the ‘now,’ consistently disrupted those fantasies. His second book, Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life (2018) won the Barnard Hewitt award for best book in theater and performance studies. Departing from millennial debates over post-blackness and afro-pessimism, Nyong’o argued that the drama of black life exceeds the social conditions that seek to negate it. Taking up a broad spectrum of performance and performative aesthetics, Afro-Fabulations locates the intersection of blackness and queerness in speculative modes of social life. He is currently embarking on a study of critical negativity in the twenty-first century.
Drew Daniel studied philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, and then attended Brasenose College, Oxford University on a Marshall scholarship, where he received a second B.A. in English literature. He returned to Berkeley and entered the graduate program in English, writing a dissertation entitled " 'I Know Not Why I Am So Sad': Melancholy and Knowledge in Early Modern English Portraiture, Drama, and Prose". He was awarded his Ph.D. in the spring of 2007. His published reviews, catalogue essays, chapters in edited collections and articles in scholarly journals range across Elizabethan drama, political philosophy, contemporary film, contemporary art, and the musical avant-garde. In 2008, Continuum Press published his first book, a study of the English "industrial" music pioneers Throbbing Gristle titled Twenty Jazz Funk Greats. In 2013, Fordham University Press published his second book The Melancholy Assemblage: Affect and Epistemology in the English Renaissance, an attempt to use assemblage theory to understand the social distribution of negative emotion. In addition to artist's talks, colloquia, and seminars at the Tate Modern, CalArts, UVA, Princeton and Harvard, he has taught courses in Renaissance literature, critical theory and aesthetics at UC Berkeley and the San Francisco Art Institute before joining the faculty at Hopkins. He is also one half of the electronic duo Matmos. He recently had a book come out in 2022 from University of Chicago Press, Joy of the Worm: Suicide and Pleasure in Early Modern English Literature.