Jerry Gafio Watts is a leading critic of Afro-American literature, culture, and politics. He came to the Graduate Center from Trinity College, where he was professor of American studies. He has also taught on the faculties of Wesleyan University and the University of California–Davis. Watts is the author of two influential, debate-shaping books on two crucial twentieth-century American writers, Ralph Ellison and Amiri Baraka: Heroism and the Black Intellectual: Reflections on Ralph Ellison, Politics, and Afro-American Intellectual Life (1994) and Amiri Baraka: The Politics and Art of a Black Intellectual (2001).
Most recently Watts edited and contributed several chapters to Harold Cruse’s The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual Reconsidered. Watts’s impressive publication record includes extensive articles, essays, and reviews in such academic journals such as Contemporary Sociology, New Politics, Social Research, and Dissent, as well as in mass-media publications. He received his B.A. from Harvard and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale.