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I am a PhD candidate in English at Northwestern University. My research focuses on contemporary African poetry, with particular interests in performance, audience formation and response, new media aesthetics, and the politics of speech, including language policy and political rhetoric.

My dissertation project, “Viral Verses: Poetry and Protest in Southeastern Africa,” traces the connection between poetry and community formation on social media, postulating poetic discourse as the link between web-based activism and grounded action in Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Considering political chants and rap alongside slam poetry and spoken word, I ask how poetry shapes and is shaped by community action, moving fluidly between social media and public spaces to reshape notions of authorship, audience, and agency. I argue that, amidst shifting norms of collective action, poetry forms a bridge between digital sites of organization and grounded sites of action.

I am especially interested in bringing these questions into the classroom and other spaces of intellectual collaboration. At Northwestern, I have taught courses on writing and contemporary literature, co-founded and co-facilitated the Graduate Digital Humanities Pedagogy Workshop, led the Africa Seminar,  organized a graduate student conference, and organized poetry readings and events.

Get in touch with me at slsacks@u.northwestern.edu