The Department of African American and African Studies (AAAS) will welcome three new faculty members as the 2021-2022 academic year begins. In September 2021, Trimiko Melancon, LeConté Dill, and Gianina Lockley will join this new department within the College of Arts & Letters.
These new faculty will complement the outstanding faculty members who are already part of the AAAS Department and will help strengthen and broaden the base of expertise in African American and African Studies at Michigan State University while building upon the AAAS Department’s focus on Black Feminisms, Black Genders Studies, and Black Sexualities Studies.
Brilliant interdisciplinary intellectual leaders, Dr. Melancon, Dr. Dill, and Gianina Lockley are fundamentally committed to community-engaged scholarship, transformative pedagogy, and creative arts practices that hold radical possibilities for collective well-being and more just futures.Ruth Nicole Brown, Professor and Inaugural Chair of the Department of African American and African Studies
“Brilliant interdisciplinary intellectual leaders, Dr. Melancon, Dr. Dill, and Gianina Lockley are fundamentally committed to community-engaged scholarship, transformative pedagogy, and creative arts practices that hold radical possibilities for collective well-being and more just futures,” said Ruth Nicole Brown, Professor and Inaugural Chair of the Department of African American and African Studies. “I am absolutely thrilled they have decided to bring their distinctive genius to MSU to contribute to the visionary build of AAAS!”
The following gives more information about each of these three new faculty members:
Trimiko Melancon will join the AAAS Department as a Full Professor with tenure. A scholar, cultural critic, and documentary filmmaker, Dr. Melancon is an expert in critical race, gender, Black feminist and sexualities studies; African American and American literary and cultural studies; African American and Black German studies; and race, media, popular culture as well as digital, film, and cultural production.
“I am ecstatic to join the Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University, which I have long admired because of its faculty, vision, and leadership. This is a particularly special career move that allows me to return to my intellectual home — African American Studies — and join a stellar cadre of dynamic scholars, practitioners, and visionaries in this revolutionary, pathbreaking, and paradigm as well as culture-shifting department,” Melancon said. “What an honor to join the ranks and play a vital role in dreaming, institutionalizing, and building an African American and African Studies department that, at its very core, situates and amplifies Black feminisms, race, gender, and sexualities studies as integral and constitutive — not as disparate or adjunct — to Black Studies as an intellectual enterprise committed to research, pedagogy, social justice, and the public good.”
An award-winning author, Dr. Melancon’s book Unbought and Unbossed: Transgressive Black Women, Sexuality, and Representation received the College Language Association Creative Scholarship Book Award. She also is the editor of Black Female Sexualities. Her scholarly publications have appeared in African American Review, Callaloo, Reconstruction, The Black Scholar, and the Journal of Popular Culture. As a cultural critic, she also has written widely and provided expert commentaries in public venues ranging from Huffington Post, Ms., Elle, Wired, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and Black Perspectives to NBC and BBC World News, among other news outlets.
Previously, Melancon was Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies, and faculty in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Film and Media Studies, at Rhodes College. She served as Associate Professor of English, African American Studies, and Women’s Studies; Director of African and African American Studies; and Co-Director of Women’s Studies at Loyola University New Orleans. She also was an Assistant Professor of English, Women’s Studies, and Africana Studies at Auburn University.
What an honor to join the ranks and play a vital role in dreaming, institutionalizing, and building an African American and African Studies department that, at its very core, situates and amplifies Black feminisms, race, gender, and sexualities studies as integral and constitutive.Professor Trimiko Melancon
An inaugural visiting scholar and fellow at the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics at Tulane University and at the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory University, Professor Melancon also has held other distinguished positions nationally and internationally: as the J. William Fulbright Scholar of American Literature and American Studies in Berlin, Germany; Mellon Mays University Fellow; Frederick Douglass Teaching Scholar; and a Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Fellow.
As a documentary filmmaker, Dr. Melancon has directed, written, and produced numerous shorts. Her latest award-winning feature documentary, What Do You Have to Lose?, explores the history of race in the United States and the current political and racial climate — from the rise of the alt-right to the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd — highlighting the complex dynamics that account for how we got here and why it matters.
She earned her B.A. in English from Xavier University of Louisiana, the only Black Catholic college in the United States, and her Ph.D. in African American Studies from the University of Massachusetts.
LeConté Dill will join the AAAS Department as an Associate Professor with tenure.
Dr. Dill is a community-accountable scholar, educator, and poet, born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. Guided by Black Feminist epistemologies and using qualitative and arts-based research methods, she has a commitment toward transdisciplinary research. She listens to and shows up for urban Black girls and other youth of color and works to rigorously document their experiences of safety, resilience, resistance, and wellness.
“I’ve been looking for an academic space with peers who unapologetically identify and live as Black Feminists, Disruptors, and Dreamers. A space where Black Girlhood Studies scholars don’t only have to meet up in conference hallways, journal special issues, or Zoom private chats,” she said. “I’m thrilled that AAAS at MSU is actively cultivating such a space with such a squad. The invitation to join AAAS at this time is not only a refreshing and unique opportunity but also a sacred responsibility, as we collectively build anew betwixt and between community and academic spaces.”
Dr. Dill’s research has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Kaiser Permanente and has been published in such journals as the American Journal of Public Health; Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism; Du Bois Review; Journal of Poetry Therapy; and Journal of Adolescent Research. Additionally, since 2015, she has been a Research Associate for the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She also is a well-published poet and a certified meditation instructor.
The invitation to join AAAS at this time is not only a refreshing and unique opportunity, but also a sacred responsibility, as we collectively build anew betwixt and between community and academic spaces.Associate Professor LeConté Dill
Previous academic positions held by Dr. Dill include Director of Public Health Practice and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Global Public Health at New York University; Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center; Instructor in the Public Health Sciences Institute at Morehouse College; Research Instructor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine; and Graduate Student Instructor in both the School of Public Health and Department of Sociology at the University of California Berkeley.
Dr. Dill received the Highest Scoring Abstract Award from the Women’s Caucus at the 2016 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting for her abstract, entitled “’What if I stay?’: Experiences of teen dating violence among urban African-American, West Indian, and Latinx girls.” She also has been a Fellow in the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Public Health Critical Race Praxis Institute, Critical Participatory Action Research Institute, Democratizing Knowledge Institute, and the Women of Color Leadership Project of the National Women’s Studies Association.
Dr. Dill has a B.A. in Sociology and Creative Writing from Spelman College, a Master of Public Health degree in Community Health Sciences from the University of California Los Angeles, a Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of California Berkeley, and completed her Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Health Policy at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine. Prior to her time in academia, she grew skills and partnerships working in the nonprofit and public sector on issues related to public health program planning and evaluation, health education, and juvenile justice advocacy.
Gianina K. Lockley
Gianina K. Lockley will join the Department of African American and African Studies as a Research Associate.
She has an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media from Columbia College Chicago and a B.S. in Chemistry from Howard University. She is a Ph.D. Candidate in Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, and holds professional certificates in Women’s Studies, Diversity and Inclusion, Nonprofit Executive Leadership, and Project Leadership from the University of Maryland, Cornell University, and Indiana University-Purdue University. Her research interests include Black Feminism, Black Studies, Performance Studies, Critical Race Theory, Dance Studies, and Contemporary African American Theatre.
“I am honored to join the Department of African American and African Studies at such a pivotal time in our country’s history. The boldness in which the department utilizes visioning as a methodological approach to create cultural shifts within, and outside of, the academy is refreshing and revolutionary,” Lockley said. “Being able to develop ‘new ways of knowing’ with such an exceptional cadre of scholars, practitioners, and cultural workers is truly inspiring. As a native of Detroit, this feels like a sacred homecoming. I look forward to contributing to the dynamic intellectual community at Michigan State University.”
Since fall 2019, Lockley has served as an Instructor in the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland where she has taught “Black Theatre & Performance,” “Theory and Performance: Black Women Playwrights,” “Introduction to Dance: Dances of the African Diaspora,” and “Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies.”
She has made several professional presentations including with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education; the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance in Durham, North Carolina; Dance Studies Association in Evanston, Illinois; and Pop Culture Association in Washington, D.C. Her scholarly publications have appeared in the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism and the Dance Research Journal.
I am honored to join the Department of African American and African Studies at such a pivotal time in our country’s history. The boldness in which the department utilizes visioning as a methodological approach to create cultural shifts within, and outside of, the academy is refreshing and revolutionary.Research Associate Gianina K. Lockley
She is experienced in developing community and international partnerships and is a two-time grant recipient of the International Program for Creative Collaboration and Research. Lockley has led projects focused on social justice at the University of Ghana, Accra, and the University of Maryland. She has experience serving as an Educational Adviser for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation in Leesburg, Virginia, and has worked as a Museum Educator and Docent at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.
As an artist, Lockley also has experience working as a Dramaturg and Voice Actor. She was a Playwright/Performer for The Kennedy Center 15th Annual Stage-to-Play New Play Festival held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and performed as a dancer with the Kankouran West African Dance Community class in Washington, D.C., and with the Coyaba Theatre Repertory also in Washington, D.C. Her work has been exhibited and performed at Chicago’s Raw Gallery and Links Hall in Chicago, Illinois.
In fall 2020, she founded Jasiri Consulting, which offers online tutoring, college planning, life coaching, and online courses focused on race and popular culture. She is a native of Detroit and a proud graduate of Cass Technical High School.