Judylyn S. Ryan

Emeritus Professor of English


  • A.B., Georgetown University
  • M.A., Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison


Judylyn Ryan was an interdisciplinary scholar who taught courses on (African) American literature, Black feminist theory, Black women’s literature and cinema, African diaspora literatures and cinema, and the College Writing Seminar. Her other research interests were cultural and critical race theory, narrative theory, Toni Morrison, and African diaspora religions. Professor Ryan was a visiting lecturer and research associate in the Women’s Studies in Religion Program in the Divinity School at Harvard University, and held a Ford postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Spirituality as Ideology in Black Women’s Film and Literature (University of Virginia Press, 2005), and of articles published in The Cambridge Companion to Toni Morrison, SIGNS, Modern Fiction Studies, and other venues.

Professor Ryan is currently at work on two manuscripts: Morrisonian Democracy: The Literary Praxis of a Cultural Philosophy and The Epidemiology of Racism.

Publications / Presentations

  • "Morrisonian Democracy: The Literary Praxis of Black Feminist Political Engagement." In Julia Jordon-Zachery and Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd (Eds.), Black Women in Politics. (New York: SUNY Press, 2018): 195-215.
  • "R.S.D. (Racism Spectrum Disorder." i-Cubed Lecture at Ohio Wesleyan University. October 17, 2017.
  • "Racism's Uprooting: White Racial Jeopardy and Democracy." BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE 17.2 (2017): 144-159.
  • "New Definitions and Directions for Antiracist Pedagogy: The US Context." Building the Antiracist University Conference. C.E.R.S. University of Leeds, UK. October, 2013.
  • "Bypass Neurohistory Through Circuits of the Literary Imagination." Sixth Biennial Toni Morrison Society Conference. Paris, France. November, 2010.
  • “Maya Angelou.” BBC Radio Interview. “Up All Night” programme. April 12, 2010.
  • "Cornelius Eady's Brutally Honest Imagination." Collegium for African American Research Biennial Conference. University of Bremen. Bremen, Germany. March, 2009.
  • “Language and Narrative Technique in Toni Morrison’s Novels.” In Justine Tally (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Toni Morrison. (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007): 151–161.
  • Spirituality as Ideology in Black Women's Film and Literature. (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2005).
  • “Outing the Black Feminist Filmmaker in Julie Dash’s Illusions.” SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Beyond the Gaze: Recent Approaches to Film Feminisms Special Issue, (Vol. 30, No. 1) Autumn 2004: 1319–1344.
  • “Dismantling Slavery’s Master-Narratives through African Diaspora Cinema.” In Kimberley Phillips et al (Eds.), Critical Voicings of Black Liberation: Resistance and Representations in the Americas, (Germany: Lit Verlag, 2003): 127–145.
  • “Jazz . . . On ‘The Site of Memory.’” Co-authored with Estella Conwill Májozo. Studies in the Literary Imagination, Toni Morrison and the American South Special Issue, (Vol.32, No.2) Fall 1998: 125–152.
  • “Spirituality and/as Ideology in Black Women’s Literature: The Preaching of Maria W. Stewart and Baby Suggs, Holy.” In Beverly Kienzle and Pamela Walker (Eds.), Women Preachers and Prophets through Two Millennia of Christianity, (Berkeley: U of California P, 1998): 267–287.
  • “Morrison’s Jazz: ‘A Knowing So Deep.’” In Nellie McKay and Kathryn Earle (Eds.), Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Toni Morrison, (New York: MLA P, 1997): 154–160.
  • “Contested Visions/Double-Vision in Tar Baby.” In Nancy J. Peterson (Ed.), Toni Morrison: Theoretical and Critical Approaches, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U P, 1997): 63–87. Reprinted from Modern Fiction Studies, Toni Morrison Special Issue, (Vol. 39, Nos.3/4) Fall/Winter 1993: 597–621.