Valerie Sweeney Prince

Valerie Sweeney Prince

Associate Professor


Maccabbee Bldg. 11th Floor
5057 Woodward Ave


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African American Studies

Valerie Sweeney Prince


Valerie (Efua) Sweeney Prince is an associate professor of African American Studies at Wayne State University. Her writing often takes an interdisciplinary form as history, poetry, drama, and performance, in order to transform the history of black women into political art. Prince received her PhD from the University of Michigan in English Language and Literature after completing a doctoral thesis titled Finding a Place of My Own: Home and the Paradox of Blues Expressiveness. Prince’s first book, Burnin’ Down the House: Home in African American Literature published by Columbia University Press, was recognized by Academia as a university press bestseller in April 2005. Her second monograph, Daughter’s Exchange is a hybrid text exploring the African American woman’s encounter with the intellectual marketplace. Daughter’s Exchange was selected as a finalist in Vanderbilt University’s Issues in Critical Investigation’s 2011 Manuscript Competition. She is the author of “Amita,” included in The Other Anthology—Not White/Straight/Male/Healthy Enough: Being “Other” in the Academy, “On Metaphor,” part of the collection The Science of Story: The Brain on Creative Nonfiction, a play titled Waterbearers, which was selected by the National Women’s Theatre Festival for Occupy the Stage ‘22, the podcast Presenting Evidence that God Still Loves Women and Writers, and numerous other creative works including the award winning “June,” which represents the interconnectedness of rape with global and historical factors. Prince has served as an Associate Professor at Allegheny College, the Avalon Professor of Humanities at Hampton University, a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia’s Carter G. Woodson Institute, and a fellow at Harvard University’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute.


Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • 20th-21st century African American literature
  • Home in African American literature
  • African American women
  • Metaphor
  • Housework


Prince’s forthcoming book, titled Crazy As Hell: The Best Little Guide to Black History, is co-authored with Hoke (Bro Yao) Glover, III. Crazy As Hell is a Black literary invention designed to engage the Black audience through traditional means by using the language of everyday life to promote intellectualism. Crazy as Hell uses wit, satire, and insight to explore African American history as the site of America’s greatest contradiction. It charts the fault lines within the United States—the place where black meets white, freedom meets slavery, right meets wrong—with a sense of irony that has been refined by the entire democratic enterprise. After all, the Founding Fathers, who crafted the ideals of democracy and freedom, held captive a caste of people to do the hard labor required to build the nation. Crazy As Hell engages this maddening contradiction as fundamental to the American experience.



  • Ph.D. in English Language and Literature, University of Michigan
  • M.A. in English Language and Literature, University of Michigan
  • B.A. in English, Hampton University

Selected publications

  • Burnin’ Down the House: Home in African American Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005
  • “Keep on Moving Don’t Stop: Invisible Man” in Bloom’s Critical Views: Ralph Ellison, second edition. Edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2010
  • Daughter’s Exchange: a vernacular performance, Marlboro, NJ: Alternative Book Press, 2018
  • Period. Published by Aunt Chloe: A Journal of Artful Candor, November 2022.
  • “On Metaphor” in Science of Story ed by Nicole Walker and Sean Prentiss. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. 127-140.
  • “Amita” in The Other Anthology Not White/Straight/Male/Healthy Enough: Being “Other” in the Academy, ed by Michael Moreno and Kathryn Sanchez. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018. 29-41.


Courses taught by Valerie Sweeney Prince

Fall Term 2024 (future)

Fall Term 2023

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022