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Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood stands next to a window wearing a black dress with white stripes and red flowers.

Nicole R. Fleetwood

James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication

Media, Culture, and Communication


Nicole R. Fleetwood is the inaugural James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication in the Steinhardt School at New York University. A MacArthur Fellow, she is a writer, curator, and art critic interested in Black art and cultural history, aesthetics, photography and documentary studies, and art and activism. She is the author Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020), winner of the National Book Critics Award in Criticism, the John Hope Franklin Publication Prize of the American Studies Association, the Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship, and both the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award in art history and the Frank Jewett Mather Award in art criticism. She is also the curator of the traveling exhibition, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, which debuted at MoMA PS1. The exhibition was listed as “one of the most important art moments in 2020” by The New York Times and among the best shows of the year by The New Yorker and Hyperallergic.

Her other books are On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (Rutgers University Press, 2015), and Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (University of Chicago Press, 2011), which was the recipient of the 2012 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize of the American Studies Association. Fleetwood is also co-editor of Aperture magazine’s “Prison Nation” issue, which focuses on photography’s role in documenting mass incarceration. She is a series associate editor of the ten-volume series, Gender: Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks. With Sarah Tobias, she co-edited “The New Status Quo: Essays on Poverty in the United States and Beyond,” a special issue of Feminist Formations (Spring 2021). Her writing appears in African American Review, American Quarterly, Aperture, Artforum, Callaloo: Art and Culture in the African Diaspora, Granta, Hyperallergic, LitHub, The New York Times, Public Books, Public Culture, Signs, Social Text, art catalogues, and edited anthologies.

Fleetwood has co/curated exhibitions and public programs on art and mass incarceration at MoMA PS1, Zimmerli Museum of Art, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Andrew Freedman Home, Aperture, Cleveland Public Library, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, and Worth Rises. She is the inaugural Genevieve Young Writing Fellow of the Gordon Parks Foundation. Her work has been supported by Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, American Council of Learned Societies, the Art for Justice Fund, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library, Whiting Foundation, NJ Council for the Humanities, Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, Ford Foundation, Puffin Foundation, and Denniston Hill Residency.

She is represented by Janklow & Nesbit and is finishing a nonfiction book titled Between the River and Railroad Tracks that will be published by Little, Brown.


Media, Culture, and Communication

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