Fleetwood, Nicole

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  • Department: Faculty: American Studies and Art History Graduate Faculty: Women's and Gender Studies, Affiliate Faculty: Africana Studies and Cinema Studies
  • Position: Professor
  • Research Interests: Twentieth Century, Contemporary, and History of Photography
  • Ph.D. Stanford University, 2001
  • Phone: 848-932-9174
  • Email:
  • Office Location: 160 Ryders Lane New Brunswick, NJ 08901



Biographical Information:

Nicole R. Fleetwood is Professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is a writer, curator, and art critic whose interests are contemporary black diasporic art and visual culture, photography studies, art and public practice, performance studies, gender and feminist studies, black cultural history, creative nonfiction, prison abolition and carceral studies, and poverty studies. She is the author of three books: Marking Time: Art in the Era of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020), On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (Rutgers University Press, 2015), and Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blacknesswhich was the recipient of the 2012 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize of the American Studies Association. Her articles appear in African American Review, American Quarterly, Aperture, Callaloo: Art and Culture in the African Diaspora, The Conversation, LitHub, Public Books, Public Culture, Signs, Social Text, art catalogues, and edited anthologies.

In 2016-2017, she was the ACLS/NYPL Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library, and an inaugural Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Fellow.   She is  also the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, American Council of Learned Societies, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NJ Council for the Humanities, Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, the Ford Foundation, and Puffin Foundation. 

Fleetwood  is co-editor of Aperture magazine’s “Prison Nation,” a special issue focusing on photography’s role in documenting mass incarceration.  She has co/curated exhibitions and public programs on art and mass incarceration at the Andrew Freedman Home, Aperture, Cleveland Public Library, Zimmerli Museum of Art, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, and Worth Rises.  In 2014, she co-organized “Marking Time: Prison Art and Activism,” a conference and six-site exhibition with the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers.

Fleetwood received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in the Program in Modern Thought and Literature and her B.Phil. from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Miami University (Ohio).   She is a series associate editor of the ten-volume series Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender Studies and co-editor of a special issue of Feminist Formations on poverty, gender, and sexuality (forthcoming). Fleetwood is on the editorial committee for Rutgers University Press, an editorial collective member of Social Text, and on the advisory board of Iperstoria journal.

Select Publications:


Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020.

On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination. Pinpoints series. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015.

Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality and Blackness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.


Co-Editor, “Prison Nation,” special issue of Aperture magazine, with Michael Famighetti, Issue 230 (Spring 2018).

Series Associate Editor, Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender Studies. 10 volume series. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2015-2018.



Co-Editor, “Prison Nation,” special issue of Aperture magazine, with Michael Famighetti, Issue 230 (Spring 2018).

Series Associate Editor, Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender Studies. 10 volume series. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2015-2018.


Articles, Catalogue Essays, and Book Chapters:

“Drawing toward Freedom” In The Pencil is the Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists.  New York: The Drawing Center, 2019.

“Through His Art, A Former Prisoner Diagnoses the Systemic Sickness of Florida’s Penitentiaries,” The Conversation, 31 August 2018:

*republished by The Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Salon, and SF Gate.

“Deana Lawson’s Mohawk Correctional Series.” In Reflections: The American Collection at the Columbus Museum of Art, edited by Nannette Maciejunes and M. Melissa Wolfe.  Columbus: Columbus Museum of Art in Association with Ohio University Press, 2018.

“Mickalene Thomas’s World Making.” In Mickalene Thomas: I Can’t See You Without Me, edited by Ryan ShaferColumbus, OH: Wexner Center for the Arts, 2018: 57-61.

“Public Intimacy: Deana Lawson’s Mohawk Correctional Facility Series.”  In Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the American Justice System, edited by Risa Puleo. Miami, FL: NAME Publications, 2018.

“Marking Time.” Aperture 230 (Spring 2018): 76-81.

“Prison Portraits.” “Vision & Justice Online,” June 2016:

"Visual Culture." In Gender: Sources, Perspectives, and Methodologies, edited by renée c. hoogland. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2016: 417-433.

“Posing in Prison: Family Photographs, Emotional Labor and Carceral Intimacy.” Public Culture. 27.3 (Fall 2015): 487-511.

“Performing Empathies: The Art of Saya Woolfalk.” Callaloo Art and Culture in the African Diaspora. 37.4 (Fall 2014): 973-989.

“The Case of Rihanna: Erotic Violence and Black Female Desire.” African American Review.  45.3 (Fall 2012): 419-435.

“Failing Narratives, Initiating Technologies: Hurricane Katrina and the Production of a Weather Media Event.” American Quarterly 58.3 (Sept 2006): 767-789.

“Mediating Youth: Community-Based Production and the Politics of Race and Authenticity.” Social Text 23.1 (Spring 2005): 83-109.

“Hip-Hop Fashion, Masculine Anxiety and the Discourse of Americana.” In Black Cultural Traffic:  Crossroads in Performance and Popular Culture, edited by Harry J. Elam, Jr. and Kennell Jackson.  Ann Arbor:  University of Michigan Press, 2005: 326-345.

“Authenticating Practices: Producing Youth, Performing Realness.” In Youthscapes: The

Popular, the National, and the Global, edited by Sunaina Maira and Elisabeth Soep.  Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005: 155-172.

“Visible Seams: Gender, Race, Technology and the Media Art of Fatimah Tuggar.” Signs 30.1 (Autumn 2004): 1429-1454.

“‘Busing it’ in the City: Black Youth, Performance and Public Transit.” TDR: the journal of performance studies 48.2 (Summer 2004): 33-48.


Nicole Fleetwood's CV