Vanderbilt University Press launches Global Black Writers in Translation series to amplify authors of African descent

Vanderbilt University Press has launched a new trade series, Global Black Writers in Translation, which will publish a variety of texts by authors of African descent translated from their source languages into English. The goal is to amplify a body of writing that introduces anglophone readers to the range and complexity of Black literary and cultural production, history and political thought.

Each book will include critical front matter that highlights the translator’s craft and the enduring value of the work. When appropriate, titles will be published as bilingual editions to foster cross-linguistic conversation.

“In an urgent time of global change, we need to heighten the ways we share scholarship and literary writing by promoting the act of translation,” said Gianna Mosser, director of Vanderbilt University Press. “This new series takes as its foundation the type of foreign-language training that Vanderbilt University has stewarded, where intellectual curiosity meets cultural exploration, and applies it to the world of translated literature from the global Black diaspora. We are also building on recent VU Press strengths in the field of translated literature to bring this initiative forward.”

This initiative will require the expansion of Vanderbilt University Press’s existing networks of international publishers, with an eye toward developing books well suited to courses on literature, history, race, gender and justice.

Series editors Nathan H. Dize (WUSTL), Annette Joseph-Gabriel (Duke) and Vanessa K. Valdés (CCNY) all obtained Ph.D.’s in foreign-language programs at Vanderbilt: Dize and Joseph-Gabriel studied French, and Valdés studied Spanish and Portuguese. As a series team, their combined expertise across multiple language traditions—as well as their scholarship in fields such as Afro-Latinx studies, Black Internationalism, translation studies, cultural history and critical theory—heightens the immediate reach and impact of the series.

The editors plan to use the series platform to facilitate global knowledge-sharing about critical translation and to promote meaningful connections with publishers committed to the work of Black writers. “This series would not be possible without the teaching and scholarship produced by foreign language programs that remain in peril as humanities programs continue to be defunded throughout the country,” the editors said.

In the wake of COVID-19, Vanderbilt University has renewed efforts to foster global connections that benefit the intellectual life of the university. Vanderbilt University Press extends the university’s scholarly mission by publishing dynamic, well-researched books for a global audience of engaged readers. Global Black Writers in Translation will further the goals of the university and the press by supporting high-quality literature and cross-cultural networks.

“The launching of the series represents an auspicious moment for the press and university,” said Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, vice provost of arts and libraries and Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Chair in the Humanities. “I am delighted to say I’ve worked with all three editors in some capacity. As scholars, they’ve all done incredibly cutting-edge research in their respective fields, particularly in Black diaspora studies. There is something immensely gratifying and celebratory in having them helm this new series.”

The series will expand existing literary canons and stretch them beyond their current national, geographic and linguistic limits to foreground global diasporic Black writers. In addition, the series aims to increase the number of Black translators, addressing their historic underrepresentation in the field. Finally, the series will make translated literature written by historically marginalized groups more accessible to readers from all backgrounds, with an emphasis on potential classroom use.

The first series titles are anticipated in 2025. Questions about the series can be directed to Gianna Mosser at

About the Editors

Vanessa K. Valdés is the author and editor of six books, all of which center the cultural and intellectual production of Black peoples in the Atlantic world. She serves as the associate provost for community engagement at The City College of New York.

Annette Joseph-Gabriel is the John Spencer Bassett Associate Professor of Romance Studies and associate professor of gender, sexuality and feminist studies at Duke University. She is the author of Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire, translated as Imaginer la liberation: Des femmes noires face à l’empire.

Nathan H. Dize is an assistant professor of French at Washington University in Saint Louis. He has published translations of fiction, poetry, and prose from French and Haitian Creole by acclaimed Haitian writers Jean D’Amérique, Kettly Mars, James Noël, Makenzy Orcel, Évelyne and Lyonel Trouillot, among others.