Late last month, Marsha Jean-Charles was awarded a Ph.D. in Africana studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She was the first person to earn a doctorate in the field from Cornell.
Cornell initiated the doctoral program in 2013, the first in Africana studies in the state of New York. Michael Kotlikoff, provost at Cornell University stated that the Ph.D. program “represents years of intellectual engagement and research, fueled by determination to discover and demonstrate something new, to elucidate something no one else has ever examined in quite the same way.”
Dr. Jean-Charles wrote her dissertation on the socio-political and cultural aspects of post-9/11 fiction by five Haitian and Haitian American writers. She stated that “most of my work is about how literature is deeply political, especially when the people writing it are regularly confronting systems of oppression with and within their work. Often for marginalized people, literature is one of the few venues in which people see themselves and feel understood.”
Dr. Jean-Charles earned her bachelor’s degree in African American studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. She holds a master’s degree in African American studies from Columbia University in New York City. While pursuing her doctoral degree at Cornell, Dr. Jean-Charles taught the course Introduction to Africana Studies at Binghamton University of the State University of New York System and taught Black studies at the City College of New York.