Black Academic Fiction: A Working Bibliography

Cherise Boothe, seated, and LisaGay Hamilton in Adrienne Kennedy's

Cherise Boothe, seated, and LisaGay Hamilton in Adrienne Kennedy’s “The Ohio State Murders” staged by the Theater for a New Audience at the Duke on 42nd Street, in November 2007.

Below is a bibliography of black academic fiction works that I have been able to identify so far.  Once again,  the annotated bibliographies The American College Novel (2004) and Academe in Mystery and Detective Fiction (2000) were rather helpful in locating several of the novels that I list here.

This bibliography is organized under the broad rubric of “academic fiction” to include different creative forms. I think this list shows the impressive range and diversity of academic fiction produced by black artists exploring many different aspects of higher education. However, once I got into the research process I decided that focusing on the genre of the novel gave me better critical possibilities.  (More about that later)

Essentially, I am focusing on works that have some significant content about  higher education or intellectualism as a major part of the plot.  I have excluded those works which might have an academic character or two but which don’t really deal with academic/intellectual life.  When I began this project, I intended to focus on black writers who have written academic fiction, and mostly that focus remains the same.  However, I do include some non-black authors whose books explore black higher education  (Philip Roth’s The Human Stain is one of the most prominent examples).  Though I have done my fair share of reading, I will admit I haven’t vetted every single book on the list yet, so some cuts and additions are likely to happen.  The list is an ongoing project and suggestions are welcome.



Anderson, Walter. Pledge Brothers. Arlington: Milk and Honey, 2001.

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Avenging Angel. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991.

Beatty, Paul. The White Boy Shuffle. New York: Picador, 1996.

Bradley, David. The Chaneysville Incident. New York: Harper & Row, 1981.

Briscoe, Connie.  Big Girls Don’t Cry.  New York: HarperCollins, 1996.

Butler, Tajuana. Sorority Sisters. New York: Villard, 2001.

Carter, Stephen.  The Emperor of Ocean Park. New York: Vintage Books, 2002.
—-. New England White: A Novel. New York: Vintage, 2007.

Colter, Cyrus.  A Chocolate Soldier. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1988.

Delany, Samuel R. The Mad Man. Rutherford: Voyant Publishing, 2002.
—-. Dark Reflections.  New York: Carroll & Graff, 2007.

Du Bois, W.E.B. The Quest of the Silver Fleece: A Novel. 1911. New York: Random House, 2004.
—-. The Ordeal of Mansart, Vol. 1 of The Black Flame Trilogy. 1957. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
—-. Mansart Builds a School, Vol .2 of The Black Flame Trilogy. 1959. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
—-. Worlds of Color, Vol 3. of The Black Flame Trilogy. 1961. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Ellison, Ralph.  Invisible Man.  New York: Random House, 1952.

Everett, Percival.  American Desert. London: Faber and Faber, 2004.
—-. Erasure.  New York: Hyperion, 2001.
—-. Glyph. Graywolf Press, 1999.
—-. I Am Not Sidney Poitier. St. Paul: Graywolf Press, 2009.

Gay, Phillip. Academic Affairs.  1st Books, 2003.

Grant, Tracy. Hellified.  New York: Visao, 1993.

Griggs, Sutton. Imperium in Imperio: A Study of the Negro Race Problem.1899. New York: Modern Library, 2003.

Heron, Gil-Scott.  The Nigger Factory. 1972.  Edinburgh: Cannongate Press, 2001.

Himes, Chester.  The Third Generation. 1954. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1989.

Hughes, Althea. Walking the Line. Arlington: E.R.L., 2000.

Jackson, C. R. Mistrustful. College Park: Media Management International, 2000.

Johnson, Mat.  Pym: A Novel.  New York: Spiegel and Grau, 2011.

Johnson, T. Geronimo. Welcome to Braggsville. New York: HarperCollins, 2016.

Larsen, Nella. Quicksand. 1928. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1986.

Marshall, Paule.  The Chosen Place, The Timeless People.  New York: Random House, 1969.

McKnight, Reginald. He Sleeps: A Novel.  New York: Macmillan, 2002.

Moon, Bucklin. Without Magnolias. New York: Doubleday, 1949.

Morse, L.C. Sundial. 1986. Bloomington: iUniverse, 2010.

Murray, Albert. The Spyglass Tree.  New York: Pantheon, 1991.

Peterson, Brian. Move Over, Girl. New York: Villard, 1998.

Raboteau, Emily.  The Professor’s Daughter. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2005.

Redding, J. Saunders.  Stranger and Alone. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1950.

Reed, Ishmael. Japanese by Spring.  New York: Atheneum, 1993.

Robinson, C. Kelly. Between Brothers.  New York: Villard, 1999.

Rosenman, John B. The Best Laugh Last. New Paltz: Treacle, 1981.

Roth, Philip. The Human Stain. New York: Vintage, 2000.

Smith, Zadie. On Beauty: A Novel.  New York:  Penguin, 2005.

Stribling, T. S. Birthright. 1922. Delmar, N.Y. : Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, 1987.

Thomas-Graham, Pamela. A Darker Shade of Crimson. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999.
—- . Blue Blood. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999.
—-. Orange Crushed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004.

Tyree, Omar.  Colored, on White Campus: The Education of a Racial World. Washington, D.C.: Mars Productions, 1992.  Re-issued and re-titled as Battlezone.  Wilmington: Mars Productions, 1994.

Walker, Alice. Meridian. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976.

Whitehead, Colson. The Intuitionist. New York: Random House, 1999.

Williams, Dennis A. Crossover. New York: Summit Books, 1992.

Williams, Robyn. Preconceived Notions.  Chicago: Lushena Books, 1991.

Woodson, Jon. Endowed, a Comic Novel.  CreateSpace, 2012.


Jones, Leroi (Amiri Baraka).  The Slave (1964).  In Dutchman and The Slave: Two Plays. New York: Morrow, 1967.

Kennedy, Adrienne. The Ohio State Murders.  New York: Samuel French, 2009.

Rux, Carl Hancock. Talk. New York: Theater Communications Group, 2004.


Birthright. Dir. Oscar Micheaux. 1939. Kino Lorber, 2016.

Brother to Brother. Dir. Rodney Evans. DVD. Wolfe Releasing, 2004.

. Dir. Charles Stone, III. 2002.  DVD. 20th  Century Fox, 2003.

The Great Debaters. Dir. Dentzel Washington. 2007. DVD. Harpo Films, 2008.

Higher Learning
. Dir. John Singleton. 1995. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2001.

Mooz-lum.  Dir. Qasim Basir.  2010. DVD. Rising Pictures, 2011.

The Nutty Professor.  Dir. Tom Shadyac. 1996. DVD. Universal Studies, 2007.

School Daze. Dir. Spike Lee. 1988. DVD.  Sony Pictures, 2001.

Train Ride. Dir. Rel Dowdell. Ruff Nation Films. 2000. DVD.

Something the Lord Made. Dir. Joseph Sargent. 2004. DVD. HBO Films, 2004.


A Different World. (1987-1993). Executive Producer, Bill Cosby.  Carsey-Werner Productions. DVD. 2005.

The Quad. Black Entertainment Television (BET). 2016.


Du Bois, W. E. B. “Of the Coming of John.”  The Souls of Black Folk.  (1903). Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2004.

—-. “Tom Brown at Fisk in Three Chapters.” 1888.  Creative Writings by W. E. B. Du Bois: A Pageant, Poems, Short Stories, and Playlets. Ed. Herbert Aptheker. New York: Kraus-Thomson Organization, 1985.

Dumas, Henry. “The University of Man.” Echo Tree:  The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2003. 176-188.

Hughes, Langston. “Professor.” 1935. Short Stories: Langston Hughes. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996.

Marshall, Paule.  “Brooklyn.” Soul Clap Hands and Sing. 1961. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1988.

McPherson, James. Hue and Cry. New York: Little Brown & Co., 1968.


Bell, Derrick.  Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism.  New York: Basic Books, 1992.

—- And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice. New York: Basic Books, 1987.

UPDATED: 14 March 2017

8 thoughts on “Black Academic Fiction: A Working Bibliography

  1. Pingback: The Over-Educated Negro: A Manifesto | THE OVER-EDUCATED NEGRO

  2. Pingback: Black Academic Fiction | "Schoolsville:" Academic/Campus/College/University Fiction

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    • Thanks for the recommendation. I have gone back and forth over The Intuitionist. I started it a few years ago but didn’t finish it. I need to give it a serious read and make a call. It’s a book that has been suggested to me enough times as an academic novel that I think there’s something to it, even though that wasn’t my first impression.

    • By the way, I revisited The Intuitionist recently, and you’re right. The second half of the novel is pretty clearly an academic satire. Thanks again for the comment.

    • I haven’t read it yet, but T. Geronimo Johnson’s Welcome to Braggsville is one of the most recent. I like Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. Adiche’s Americanah has academic novel parts to it. (I’m teaching it this semester). I recommend just about anything by Percival Everett ( Erasure, I’m Not Sidney Poitier).

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