Derrick R. Spires, associate professor of Literatures in English, has spent a lot of time thinking about the power of ideas and the influence of words to facilitate change. As this article by Cornell Research points out, he focuses on early African American and American print cultures, citizenship, and African American intellectual history.
His first book, The Practice of Citizenship: Black Politics and Culture in the Early United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019) has won multiple awards, including the Modern Language Association First Book Award.
“I have faith in the power of writing, of poetry, of literature, to do work in the world,” Spires says in the Cornell Research article. “The fact that the movie Black Panther exists, for example, and my little nephew calls himself Black Panther and is proud of his blackness: that’s what literature, that’s what the arts, do for us.”