Kyessa L. Moore


My project, Sensuous Readings: Retrofitting Black Spectatorial and Reading Praxis looks at literature, film and photography of Black female cultural producers to examine how they utilize the senses, literally and as theoretical methods, to create more expansive narratives about the Black female experience. By looking comparatively at literature and presumptively only visual cultural items, I seek to unsettle assumptions about how the works are created and consumed.

I utilize a Black feminist cultural heuristics, a methodology that embeds itself in cognitive theorists analysis of learning such that, all social, cultural, and linguistic learning is a multi-sensory, context bound, ongoing evolution; alternating between fixity/stasis and dynamism. Further adding in Black feminist theory, this then makes clear the complex processing of contradictory information, in feedback loops amongst numerous ideological and communal affiliations, that constitutes the kaleidoscopic array of Black female experience. The authors, filmmakers and photographers I examine all enact a pedagogically inspired imperative to creatively display this complex process and the resultant diversity of existence it inevitably produces. By emphasizing the intractably embodied nature of Black life that weds one to sensory stimuli in a disarming way, and the complicity and pliability of cultural consumers, what is revealed is new way of interpreting and analyzing these and other cultural texts.

My love for and commitment to teaching stretches from developing an afterschool homework program for secondary school students in a public housing development, to teaching English to migrant farmworkers on a large mechanized dairy farm in upstate New York, to work in writing centers at two different universities, to teaching high school English Literature at a school in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Since matriculating at Princeton, in addition to African American literature, I have also taught classes on the topics of Film, American Literatures, and Children’s Literature. I look forward to the next phase of my career, one filled with scholarly research, writing, and teaching.

Kyessa joined the department as a Ph.D. student in 2008 after having received her B.S. in Urban & Regional Studies from Cornell University, and an M.A. in African American Studies from Columbia University. Her interests are: African American/Black Literature, critical theory, cultural studies (i.e. the historicized production of race and gender, visual and haptic theory), sensory studies, and film studies.