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In June 2017, Terrefe earned a Ph.D. in English, with a graduate emphasis in Critical Theory, at the University of California, Irvine, where she worked on African and African American literature and cultural production. Before coming to UC Irvine, she earned an interdisciplinary M.A. from NYU, where she studied Psychoanalysis, Continental Philosophy, Critical Theory, and Gender Politics, and her B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley.

Under the direction of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, she completed her dissertation, titled Dissociative States: The Metaphysics of Blackness and the Psychic Afterlife of Slavery. The interdisciplinary and transatlantic range of her research in Black diasporic literary, media, and visual culture was forged in her previous work as a creative writer, educator, and non-profit burn-out in San Francisco and New York City.

A multiyear fellowship at the University of Bremen afforded Terrefe the opportunity to develop future projects as well as to refine her book manuscript, Impossible Blackness: Violence and the Psychic Life of Slavery. Moreover, Terrefe’s research on race and psychoanalysis, as well as her theoretical contributions to theories of violence and Afro-Pessimism, continue to impact Black scholarly and social movement spaces, as evidenced by continuing collaborations with community activists and organizers internationally.

Since 2006, Terrefe has been practicing yoga in the Mysore tradition: an Ashtanga Yoga method so named because yoga was taught this way by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. After years of practicing meditation in the Zen and Vipassana traditions, in 2016 she was initiated into the Shri Vidya tradition, receiving a mantra for Japa, or repeated practice, meditation. She considers her yoga and meditation practices as inseparable from her research, teaching, and psycho-politics.











Ph.D., M.A., English, University of California, Irvine

Fields of Study: African American, African, and African Diasporic Literature and Visual Culture; Critical Theory; Black Feminism; Psychoanalysis; Theories of violence; Political Theory; Radical and Revolutionary Politics; Continental philosophy

M.A., Humanities and Social Thought, New York University


B.A., English Literature, University of California, Berkeley


Williams College


Black Critical Theory, Black Avant-Garde 

Race and Psychoanalysis: Slavery and the Psyche, Advanced Seminar

Tulane University 



#Ratchet to Revolution: Race, Gender, and Violence in African American Literature

Fundamentals of Literary Theory

Toni Morrison & James Baldwin

Black Critical Theory

Black Queer Literature and Film

Ambiguous Horror


Contemporary African American Literature

University of Bremen


Black Women Writers in the US


From Black Power to #BlackLivesMatter: Black Political and Protest Literature in the US


Contemporary African American Literature

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