Erich Kessel Jr.

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Sixth Year
Joint Studies: History of Art and African American Studies

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 the interaction of antiblackness, aesthetics and capitalism from the 1970s to the present. This research draws on his broader interests, which include: Black critical thought; Marxism; film and media studies; embodiment; 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).

He will be 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.