Bryan Wagner

Bryan Wagner

Associate Professor
416 Wheeler
Tue 4:30-5, Thu 3:30-5
bwagner@berkeley.edu


Professional Statement

Bryan Wagner is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley. He received a PhD in English from the University of Virginia before coming to Berkeley in 2002. His research focuses on African American expression in the context of slavery and its aftermath, and he has secondary interests in legal history and vernacular culture. His books include Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery (Harvard University Press, 2009), The Tar Baby: A Global History (Princeton University Press, 2017), The Wild Tchoupitoulas (Bloomsbury, 2019), and The Life and Legend of Bras-Coupé: The Fugitive Slave Who Fought the Law, Ruled the Swamp, Danced at Congo Square, Invented Jazz, and Died for Love (LSU Press, 2019). A co-edited collection of critical essays, Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places, is forthcoming from Fordham University Press. Current research includes a monograph, Hokum: Black Comedy in the Police Court 1865-1965, and a collaborative, multidisciplinary digital edition, Slavery and Conspiracy in the Atlantic World.



Specialties

Books

Title Fields
The Life and Legend of Bras-Coupé: The Fugitive Slave Who Fought the Law, Ruled the Swamp, Danced at Congo Square, Invented Jazz, and Died for Love The Life and Legend of Bras-Coupé: The Fugitive Slave Who Fought the Law, Ruled the Swamp, Danced at Congo Square, Invented Jazz, and Died for Love
This anthology collects and introduces the most important versions of the Bras-Coupé story from the major phase of its development between the 1830s and the 1960s. One of the most notorious outlaws in the history of New Orleans, Bras-Coupé was a leader of the maroons who subsisted in the cypress swamps behind the city. Bras-Coupé’s historical career is represented in this edition with evidence fro....
Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery
W. C. Handy waking up to the blues on a train platform, Buddy Bolden eavesdropping on the drums at Congo Square, John Lomax taking his phonograph recorder into a southern penitentiary—some foundational myths of the black vernacular remain inescapable, even as they come under increasing pressure from skeptics. In Disturbing the Peace, Bryan Wagner revises the history of the black vernacular traditi....
The Tar Baby: A Global History The Tar Baby: A Global History
The Tar Baby offers a fresh analysis of a deceptively simple story about a wolf, a rabbit, and a doll made of tar and turpentine. Examining the story's variation and reception, Bryan Wagner argues that the tar baby is best understood not merely as a folktale but as a collective work in political philosophy. Circulating at the same time and in the same places as new ideas about property and politic....
Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places
For many inside and outside the legal academy, the right place to look for law is in constitutions, statutes, and judicial opinions. This book looks for law in the “wrong places”—sites and spaces in which no formal law appears. These may be geographic regions beyond the reach of law, everyday practices ungoverned or ungovernable by law, or works of art that have escaped law’s constraints. Looking ....
The Wild Tchoupitoulas The Wild Tchoupitoulas
The Wild Tchoupitoulas is a definitive expression of the modern New Orleans sound, drawing upon carnival traditions stretching back a century. Music chanted in the streets with tambourines and makeshift percussion is transformed throughout the album into dense electric funk accented by calypso and reggae. The album bridges not only genres but generations, linking the improvised flow from group lea....

Recent English Courses Taught

Spring, 2019
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
24/1 Freshman Seminar: Emily Dickinson Freshman Seminars
C136/1 Topics in American Studies: Harlem Renaissance American Literature
African American Literature
Fall, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
24/1 Freshman Seminar: Emily Dickinson Freshman Seminars
133A/1 African American Literature and Culture Before 1917 American Literature
African American Literature
Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/5 Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance American Literature
African American Literature
Research Seminars
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
24/3 Freshman Seminar: African American Poetry Freshman Seminars
African American Literature
133A/1 African American Literature and Culture Before 1917 American Literature
African American Literature
C136/1 Topics in American Studies: New Orleans American Literature
African American Literature
Special Topics
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/3 Special Topics: Slavery and Conspiracy American Literature
African American Literature
Literary Theory
Special Topics
190/2 Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance American Literature
African American Literature
Research Seminars
Summer, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
N166/1 Special Topics: Film Noir American Literature
Film
Fall, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
133A/1 African American Literature and Culture Before 1917 American Literature
African American Literature
203/2 Graduate Readings: Early African American Literature American Literature
African American Literature
Graduate Courses

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