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English and Creative Writing

RL Watson

RL Watson


Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies

Research Interests

American History and Culture
American Literature
American Religious History
Identity Politics and Racial Representation Politics
American Stereotypologies
Alterity and Subjectivity
20th Century Continental Philosophy
Slave Narratives
Multispecies Studies
Womanist Philosophy


The University of Chicago

Doctor of Philosophy, Religion & Literature

Dissertation Title: Children of Darkness, Children of the Mask: An Examination of the Moral Effects of Metaphors of Darkness on the Representational Lives of Black Americans

Dissertation Committee: Dr. Richard Rosengarten, Dr. Dwight Hopkins, Dean Emilie Townes

Yale Divinity School

Master of Arts in Religion, summa cum laude
Advisors: Dr. John C. Collins, Dr. Carolyn Sharp

Yale University

Bachelor of Arts, Film Studies / Theatre Studies, with Distinction in the Major (Film)
Advisors: Dr. Murray Biggs, Professor Toni Dorfman, Dr. Charles Musser

Teaching Experience

Visiting Assistant Professor, English
Lake Forest College
Instructor, Craft of Teaching: Public Speaking Workshop
The University of Chicago
Teaching Assistant, Womanist Theology: New Voices
The University of Chicago Divinity School
Instructor, Arts of Ministry: Ritual/Worship Leadership, Preaching and Teaching
The University of Chicago Divinity School
Instructor, Arts of Ministry: Preaching and Worship
The University of Chicago Divinity School
Writing Intern (Writing Instructor), Humanities Core: Human Being and Citizen
The University of Chicago
Writing Tutor
Yale Divinity School
Instructor, Technical Directing
African Globe Theatre, Newark, NJ

Conference Papers and Presentations

RL Watson, “Souls Beneath Our Feet: What Fungi Teach Us About Living in Invisibility” American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA March 2018.

RL Watson, “Reimaginations: Hair” Reimaginations Series, International House, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL November 2017.

RL Watson, “Darkness as Moral Aesthetic” Theology and Ethics Workshop, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL April 2017.

RL Watson, “Must Be a Wisdom … Don’t It Hurt? The Substantiality of Haunting in Toni Morrison’s Beloved” American Academy of Religion Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX November 2016.

RL Watson, “Must Good and Evil Always Be Black and White?” Black and Reformed Conference, South Holland, IL April 2016.

RL Watson, “Etymological Woes: What Difference Does the History of a Word Like Fair Make?” Alternative Epistemologies Salon Series, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL April 2015.

RL Watson, “William Grimes’ Free Narrative,” Race and Religion Workshop, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL March 2012.


Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture Dissertation Fellowship (2017)
FTE Dissertation Fellowship (2016)
FTE Doctoral Fellowship (2015)
Edward Ashley Walker Scholarship Prize (2009)
Mary Cady Tew Prize (2009)