Stratton Hall #316
Jay-Straker.jpgBorn in central Ohio, I’ve been lucky enough to study and travel widely. I obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English Literature from the University of Notre Dame and Ohio State. My lengthy pursuit of a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies unfolded in at Emory University in Atlanta. My studies have been extended and enriched by experiences as a US Peace Corps volunteer in the Francophone West African Republic of Guinea and the former Soviet Republic of Moldova, and by travels throughout West Africa and Europe. One of my central ambitions as an educator is to encourage students to seize opportunities to travel, study, and work abroad, and to help them cultivate skills and sensibilities crucial to productive cross-cultural interaction and the spread of cosmopolitan feeling and action wherever their careers may take them.
- LAIS 307 Explorations in Comparative Literature
- LAIS 311 Modern European Literature
- LAIS 411 Modern African Literature
- LAIS 418 Narrating the Nation
- African Crises: Humanitarian Art and Scholarship in the African World
- Culture and Development
My main research focuses on coming of age in contemporary Africa. It explores relations between literary renderings of youth, development ideologies and policies, and intergenerational conflict in postcolonial settings, centering on the Francophone West African Republic of Guinea. My broader research and teaching interests include postcolonial literature, comparative anticolonial and revolutionary nationalisms, ethnic identities and conflict, pedagogy, postsocialism, cultural studies, cosmopolitanism, and Francophonie.
- Youth, Nationalism, and the Guinean Revolution. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.
- “Illusions of Transcendence: Circus Baobab and the Volatile Charms of Guinean Youth Performance Arts," International Journal of Francophone Studies, forthcoming 2010.
- "Engineering and Social Inequalities in Modern World Literature: Of Disembodies Forces and Provocative Intrusions," Engineering Studies 2, I (2010): 61-83.
- “The State of the Subject: A Guinean Educator’s Odyssey in the Postcolonial Forest,” Journal of African History 49, 1 (2008): 93-109.
- “Performing the Predicaments of National Belonging: The Art and Politics of the Tuareg Ensemble Tartit at the 2003 Folklife Festival,” Journal of American Folklore 121, 479 (2008): 80-96.
- “Stories of ‘Militant Theatre’ in the Guinean Forest: ‘Demystifying’ the Motives and Moralities of a Revolutionary Nation-State,” Journal of African Cultural Studies 19, 2 (2007): 207-233.
- “Youth, Globalisation, and Millennial Reflection in a Guinean Forest Town,” Journal of Modern African Studies 45, 2 (2007): 299-319.
- “Popular Culture as Critical Process in Colonial Africa: A Study of Brazzaville Football,” Impumelelo: The Interdisciplinary Electronic Journal of African Sports, Introductory Volume, Fall 2005,
- "Intonations: A Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola, from 1945 to Recent Times, by Marissa Moorman. American Historical Review, 114, 5 (2009): 1580-1581.
- " Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea", 1946-1958, by Elizabeth Schmidt, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 10, 3 (2009).
- "Africa’s Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and Making the Self", Karin Barber, ed. African Studies Review 50, 2 (2007): 280-281.
- "Dilemmas of Culture in African Schools: Youth, Nationalism, and the Transformation of Knowledge", by Cati Coe. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 37, 2 (2006).