Samantha Plasencia

Visiting Assistant Professor of English

Office: Miller Library [ campus map ]
Fax: 207-859-5252


Ph.D University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
MA University of Florida
BA Rutgers University

Areas of Expertise

  • Early African American Writing
  • Early African American Print Culture
  • Early National and Antebellum US Racial History
  • Black Studies
  • Afropessimism
  • Early National and Antebellum US Literature
  • US Protest Writing
  • Early Black Liberation Theology

Courses Currently Teaching

CourseCourse Title
EN120L ALanguage, Thought, and Writing: Coloniality of Language Instruction
EN232 AEarly African American Literature
EN297 ABlack Liberation Theology in Kendrick Lamars Studio Albums
EN298 ABlack Speculative Fiction
EN340 AU.S. Protest Writing: Revolutionary War to the Black Panthers

Professional Information

My research interests are motivated by a theoretical concern with how language shapes perception and the psycho-somatic experience of reality. How are our behaviors rhetorically motivated? How are these constitutive processes directed by anti-black apparatuses and institutions of power? How may they be redirected towards revolution? My orientation towards language is transdisciplinary, and so my work traverses the categories of thought and research that organize contemporary higher education.

Current Research

My current book project, Signifying Against Anti-blackness: Black Rhetoric in Early African American Writing, claims that many early black writers were also meta-linguistic theorists of signification. Their work elucidates the relationship between language, perception, and behavior in order to demonstrate how dominant grammars generate violent anti-black conduct and then cognitively and morally repress that violence through abstract signifiers. Practicing Black Rhetoric disrupts the suppressive protocols of this discursive apparatus through a historically materialist rhetoric that re-articulates relations of power. For practitioners, Black Rhetoric offers a way to signify without being subjectivized by dominant discourses. For readers, Black Rhetoric is pedagogical: it reminds us that language is contingent and associative—not bound by referents—and thus directs us towards ways we can abandon the ontological constraints imposed by dominant forms of signification.


“Staging Enfleshment: Towards Lines of Flight in Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig; or Sketches from the life of a Free Black (1859)” forthcoming in Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers. Vol 37. No. 2 (December) 2020


The directory information is for individual use only, it may not be retransmitted or published for any reason. It is not to be used for mass solicitations by email, mail, phone, or other means. Sale or other distribution of this document is prohibited by College policy.