Kirby Brown is an Associate Professor of Native American Literatures in the Department of English at the University of Oregon and an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He received his PhD in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012. His research interests include Native American literary, intellectual, and cultural production from the late eighteenth century to the present, Indigenous critical theory, sovereignty/self-determination studies, nationhood/nationalism studies, and genre studies. His book, Stoking the Fire: Nationhood in Cherokee Writing, 1907-1970 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2018), examines how four Cherokee writers variously remembered, imagined and enacted Cherokee nationhood in the period between Oklahoma statehood in 1907 and tribal reorganization in the early 1970s. Essays in contemporary Indigenous critical theory, constitutional criticism in Native literatures, Native interventions in the Western and in Modernist Studies have appeared in Sovereignty Separatism and Survivance: Ideological Encounters in Native North America (2009), Nakum Journal (2010), Studies in American Indian Literatures (2011), Routledge Companion to Native American Literatures (2015), Texas Studies in Language and Literatures (2017), and Western American Literature (2018). In addition to serving as a dissertation fellow with Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, Brown was awarded the Don D. Walker prize for the best essay published in western literary studies in 2012 by the Western Literature Association and was an Oregon Humanities Center Research Fellow in 2015-16. His book was also awarded an Andrew W. Mellon grant.
Approaching education and knowledge production as civic responsibilities, Brown challenges students to engage the same critical issues in the classroom that he explores in his research. Consequently, his courses turn on themes of identity and belonging, the ethics of representation and power, and the multiple ways in which ethnic writers have variously revised, contested and imagined alternatives to dominant narratives across history. By authorizing a wide range of voices and experiences in the classroom, Brown invites students to critically embrace the unfamiliar, to question their own relationships to the status quo, and to consider how positionality facilitates or restricts access to the structures of social power and privilege. Consistently inhabiting the uncomfortable and unfamiliar exposes students to that unstable yet enormously creative space where knowledge is built rather than possessed, where self and community are always in the process of being formed, contested and remade, and where social transformation becomes possible.
University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D., 2012, English
Dissertation: “Stoking the Fire: Nationhood in Early Twentieth Century Cherokee Writing,” directed by James H. Cox
Graduate Certificate: Native American & Indigenous Studies
University of Texas at San Antonio, M.A., 2005, English
University of Texas at Austin, B.A., 1998, Biology
My primary research and teaching areas include Native American and Indigenous writing and cultural production from the late eighteenth century to the present, Indigenous critical theory, nation/nationalism studies, sovereignty/self-determination studies, and genre studies. More broadly, I am interested in the politics of race, nation, citizenship, and belonging in ethnic American writing and the relationships between narrative form, cultural representation, public policy, and the law.
My recently published book, Stoking the Fire: Nationhood in Century Cherokee Writing, 1907-1970 (University of Oklahoma Press, Spring 2018), examines how four Cherokee writers variously remembered, imagined and enacted Cherokee nationhood in the period between Oklahoma statehood in 1907 and tribal reorganization in the early 1970s. Often read as an intellectually inactive and politically insignificant "dark age" in Cherokee history, I recover this period as a rich archive of Cherokee national memory capable of informing contemporary discussions about soveriegnty, self-determination, citizenship and belonging in Cherokee Country and Native American and Indigenous Studies today.
Related to this project, I am also pursuing a critical edition of the collected writings of Ruth Muskrat Bronson (Cherokee, 1897-1982), two essays on Bronson's early poetry and fiction, and new research into Native American modernisms and modernities.
- ENG 244: Introduction to Native American Literatures
- ENG 245: Introduction to Ethnic American Literatures
- ENG 365: Race, Nation, and Modernist Form in the Ethnic American Bildungsroman
- ENG 361: Native American Writers (Novel)
- ENG 361: Native American Writers (Nationhood, Sovereignty, Story, and Place)
- ENG 361: Native American Writers (Contemporary Indigenous Women's Writing)
- ENG 488/588: Native American Literature and Film (Race and Film)
- ENG 660: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Belonging in the Ethnic American Bildungsroman
- ENG 660: Native American Writing from Allotment to the Renaissance, 1887-1968