Wesleyan portrait of Ren  Ellis Neyra

Ren Ellis Neyra

Associate Professor of English

Downey House, 294 High Street, 217
860-685-3636

Associate Professor, African American Studies

Coordinator, Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

rellisneyra@wesleyan.edu

BA Freed Hardeman College
PHD SUNY at Stony Brook

Ren Ellis Neyra

Professor Ellis Neyra is on research sabbatical. Students: In the spring 2025 semester, Prof. Ellis Neyra will offer two courses: "1492: States of War" (ENGL 301) and "Introduction to Literary Theory" (a 200-level ENGL course). Current and/or interested SOCIAL, CULTURAL, AND CRITICAL THEORY CERTIFICATE students, see the note in the "Office Hours" section below.

Professor Ellis Neyra writes about and teaches Caribbean, African diaspora, and Latinx literary studies (focusing especially on poetry, music, and cinema), as well as literary and critical theory. Ellis Neyra is the author of The Cry of the Senses: Listening to Latinx and Caribbean Poetics (Duke University Press, 2020), which was awarded Honorable Mention for the 2022 Outstanding Book Award of the Latinx Studies Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). 

Ellis Neyra is as interested in the possibilities for thought that emerge when reading texts closely, slowly, and resistantly, as in quandaries, impasses, and impossibilities that emerge at the limits of reading. Ellis Neyra has additional interests in deconstruction, Third Cinema, and translation. At Wesleyan, Ellis Neyra is currently the Coordinator of the Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate and hosts scholarly talks and events in its name, relevant to questions of theory today. In 2021, Ellis Neyra co-organized the Earth, World, Ethics serial symposium hosted by the Center for the Humanities.

Some recent publications include: "The Question of Ethics in the Semiotics of Brownness" (sx salon); "White Mythologies," a response essay to the the invited, special book forum in Small Axe Journal about The Cry of the Senses; and an interview with Black Agenda Report's Book Forum editor. As a writer, Ellis Neyra publishes scholarly essays, as well as art reviews, and poetry. Invited and/or peer-edited articles or book chapters are published or forthcoming in: Radical Formalisms (Eds. Mario Talo and Sarah Nooter, Bloomsbury 2023), differences, Radical History Review's online organ The Abusable PastSmall Axe, sx salon, and Obsidian: Literature and Arts in the African DiasporaPeer-reviewed articles have appeared in: Journal of Popular Music Studies, The Cambridge Companion to Queer Studies, Habana Elegante, and Sargasso: A Journal of Caribbean Literature and Culture. "Public facing" criticism, art writing, and interviews have appeared in: Public BooksARTFORUM, BOMB magazine, ASAP/Journal, and Terremoto magazine. Ellis Neyra's debut book of poetry, Meteor Shower/ Días Sin Shower (2017), and a co-edited, collaborative volume of text and images, Caribbean Cautionary Tales (2017), were both edited by and published with La Impresora Press, San Juan, Puerto Rico; poems in English and Spanish translation have appeared in La Gaceta de CubaWomen & Performance JournalSargasso, and elsewhere.

Three new book projects are underway: a manuscript currently titled "Rereading: The Violence of Relation"; another ms. about the long and violent history of representations of sovereignty in Caribbean literature, for which Ellis Neyra began doing archival research as a John Carter Brown fellow at Brown University in 2020; and a third project about representations of the Kardashians, the Bobbitts, and American domesticity.

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

SOCIAL, CULTURAL AND CRITICAL THEORY CERTIFICATE STUDENTS, AND STUDENTS INTERESTED IN THE CERTIFICATE: I do not have office hours while on sabbatical but you are very welcome to email me to set up a virtual meeting to discuss any questions about your declaration or completion of the Certificate.

More information about the SCCT Certificate is on its website. The SCCTC gives a name to one of the University's greatest strengths: its faculty's coursework and scholarly committments to theory--to the how, why, and whither of phenomena and language. Some Wesleyan students take theory courses given the disciplinary formation(s) that ground their major and/or minor (e.g., CSS, GOV, ENGL, COL, FILM, ROML, PHIL, ANTH, FGSS, and SOC students tend to also fulfill the SCCTC reqs). Other students, and sometimes regardless of major or minor, find themselves driven toward theory courses across several disciplines and fields. In these and other cases, students who study theory enjoy one of the virtues of the liberal arts curriculum: an attentive, critical errancy that reveals not just "the what" of an X but how X has come to be in the world and in language, which forces are scored in that X, how to think about and represent that coming-to-be, and what possibilities show themselves only to those who theorize.

Practically speaking, pre-approved courses for the SCCTC offered across the three divisions are updated each academic year (see here), and sometimes a course eludes pre-approval. Students can appeal for a course that was not pre-approved to count for the SCCTC. Courses on literary theory, black critical theory, political theory, social and cultural theory, philosophy of history, aesthetics, film theory, anthropology, queer theory, and so on (this is not an exhaustive list), can potentially satisfy the requirements. Courses need to have been theory through-and-through, meaning, theory is structurally necessary for a given course to be what it is, to count. Note, certain disciplinary and/or field formations by (self)definition are NOT theoretical (there are little disagreements about empiricism, epistemology, cognition and mediation, etc.). If a student would like to discuss whether or not a course qualifies, write to set a meeting.