Erich Kessel Jr

Erich Kessel, Jr., is a PhD candidate in the department’s History of Art and African-American Studies joint program, with a certificate in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies. His dissertation examines how antiblackness has shaped the appearance and circulation of black people through capitalist visual culture from the 1970s to the present. It pays special attention to the concept of the “image” as it has been molded as a tool of capture in representational, conceptual and political-economic senses. This research draws on his broader interests, which include: Black critical thought; Marxism; mediation; embodiment and notions of life and death; psychoanalysis and affect; and the study of popular culture.

In addition to dissertation work, Erich recently co-edited, with Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué, a book collecting the sketches of the late artist Gustavo Ojeda (An Excess of Quiet: Selected Sketches by Gustavo Ojeda, 1979-1989, Soberscove Press, 2020). Additionally, his writing was published in the 2019 exhibition catalogue Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle (Peabody Essex Museum, 2019).

For the 2022-2023 term, he will hold a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. He was a Helena Rubinstein Critical Studies Fellow in the Whitney Independent Study Program for 2021-2022. Prior to Yale, he received a B.A. in History of Art with Distinction from the University of Pennsylvania, where he received support from the Mellon-Mays Foundation and Penn Humanities Forum.