Nicole R. Fleetwood

Nicole R. Fleetwood is Professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is a writer, curator, and art critic whose interests are contemporary black diasporic art and visual culture, photography studies, art and public practice, performance studies, gender and feminist studies, black cultural history, creative nonfiction, prison abolition and carceral studies, and poverty studies. She is the author Marking Time: Art in the Era of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020), winner of the National Book Critics Award in Criticism, the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award in art history, and the Frank Jewett Mather Award in art criticism. She is also the curator of the related exhibition, Marking Time: Art in the Era of Mass Incarceration, at MoMA PS1 (September 17, 2020-April 5, 2021). The exhibition was listed as “one of the most important art moments in 2020” by The New York Times and among the best shows of the year by The New Yorker and Hyperallergic.

Her other books are On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (Rutgers University Press, 2015), and Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness, which was the recipient of the 2012 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize of the American Studies Association. Her articles appear in African American Review, American Quarterly, Aperture, Callaloo: Art and Culture in the African Diaspora, Artforum, The Conversation, Hyperallergic, LitHub, Public Books, Public Culture, Signs, Social Text, art catalogues, and edited anthologies.

In November 2019, she was an academic writing fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. In 2016-2017, she was the ACLS/NYPL Fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library, and an inaugural Whiting Foundation Public Engagement Fellow. She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, American Council of Learned Societies, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NJ Council for the Humanities, Schomburg Center for Research on Black Culture, the Ford Foundation, and Puffin Foundation.

Fleetwood is co-editor of Aperture magazine’s “Prison Nation” issue, which focuses on photography’s role in documenting mass incarceration.  She has co/curated exhibitions and public programs on art and mass incarceration at the Andrew Freedman Home, Aperture, Cleveland Public Library, Zimmerli Museum of Art, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, and Worth Rises.  In 2014, she co-organized “Marking Time: Prison Art and Activism,” a conference and six-site exhibition with the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers.

Fleetwood received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in the Program in Modern Thought and Literature and her B.Phil. from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Miami University (Ohio).   She is a series associate editor of the ten-volume series Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender Studies. She is also co-editor with Sarah Tobias of a special issue of Feminist Formations, titled  “The New Status Quo: Essays on Poverty in the United States and Beyond” (Spring 2021). Fleetwood is on the editorial committee for Rutgers University Press, a board member of Journal of Visual Culture, an editorial collective member of Social Text, and on the advisory board of Iperstoria journal.


 Dr. Nicole Fleetwood’s Curriculum Vitae



Marking Time: Art in the Era of Mass Incarceration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020.

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  • 2021 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award in Art History, College Art Association
  • 2021 Frank Jewett Mather Award in Art Criticism, College Art Association
  • 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism 
  • An Artnet News Staff Pick
  • An ARTnews Best Art Book of 2020 
  • An Art Newspaper Best Art Book of 2020 
  • A Financial Times Readers’ Choice Best Book of 2020 
  • A National Book Foundation “Literature for Justice” Reading List Selection, 2020-2021
  • A New York Times Best Art Book of 2020 
  • A Seminary Co-op Notable Book of 2020 
  • A Smithsonian Favorite Book of 2020

On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination. Pinpoints series. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2015.

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Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality and Blackness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

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Interview, NYC-ARTS Choice, WNET, 19 Nov 2020

“The Voices of Marking Time,” MoMA Magazine Podcast, 16 November 2020

Interview, Morning Edition, NPR, 28 October 2020

Interview, All of It with Alison Stewart, WNYC, 25 September 2020

“Incarcerated Artists Are Making Some of Today’s Most Important Art. A Powerful New Book Explains Why.” Conversation with author and artists in ARTnews (8 July 2020)

Author Q&A in The Black Agenda Report Book Forum (1 July 2020)

Author interview in PEN America (23 June 2020)

Author interview, PRISM International Magazine (16 June 2020)

Author interview, The Modern Art Notes Podcast (11 June 2020)

Author interview, Another World is Podable (8 June 2020)


Selected Articles, Catalogue Essays, and Book Chapters

“Abolition,” Aperture 241 (Winter 2020): 84-85.

“Black Radical Feminism and the Iconic Status of Angela Davis,” In Angela Davis: Seize the Time, edited by Gerry Beegan and Donna Gustafson. New Brunswick, NJ: Zimmerli Art Museum and Munich, Germany: Hirmer Publishers, 2020: 71-77.

“Creation in Confinement,” excerpt in The New York Review of Books Daily (28 April 2020)

“From Marking Time: An Excerpt,” Hyperallergic (11 October 2020)

“Project,” Artforum International (Sept 2020): 116-123.

“Policing and the Production of Crime,” In The Atmosphere of Crime, edited by Sarah Meister. Germany and New York: Steidl and the Gordon Parks Foundation, 2020: 74-77.

“Drawing toward Freedom” In The Pencil is the Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists.  New York: The Drawing Center, 2019.

“Through His Art, A Former Prisoner Diagnoses the Systemic Sickness of Florida’s Penitentiaries,” The Conversation, 31 August 2018

“Deana Lawson’s Mohawk Correctional Series.” In Reflections: The American Collection at the Columbus Museum of Art, edited by Nannette Maciejunes and M. Melissa Wolfe.  Columbus: Columbus Museum of Art in Association with Ohio University Press, 2018.

“Mickalene Thomas’s World Making.” In Mickalene Thomas: I Can’t See You Without Me, edited by Ryan ShaferColumbus, OH: Wexner Center for the Arts, 2018: 57-61.

“Public Intimacy: Deana Lawson’s Mohawk Correctional Facility Series.”  In Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the American Justice System, edited by Risa Puleo. Miami, FL: NAME Publications, 2018.

“Marking Time.” Aperture 230 (Spring 2018): 76-81.

“Prison Portraits.” “Vision & Justice Online,” June 2016:

"Visual Culture." In Gender: Sources, Perspectives, and Methodologies, edited by renée c. hoogland. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2016: 417-433.

“Posing in Prison: Family Photographs, Emotional Labor and Carceral Intimacy.” Public Culture. 27.3 (Fall 2015): 487-511.

“Performing Empathies: The Art of Saya Woolfalk.” Callaloo Art and Culture in the African Diaspora. 37.4 (Fall 2014): 973-989.

“The Case of Rihanna: Erotic Violence and Black Female Desire.” African American Review.  45.3 (Fall 2012): 419-435.

“Failing Narratives, Initiating Technologies: Hurricane Katrina and the Production of a Weather Media Event.” American Quarterly 58.3 (Sept 2006): 767-789.

“Mediating Youth: Community-Based Production and the Politics of Race and Authenticity.” Social Text 23.1 (Spring 2005): 83-109.

“Hip-Hop Fashion, Masculine Anxiety and the Discourse of Americana.” In Black Cultural Traffic:  Crossroads in Performance and Popular Culture, edited by Harry J. Elam, Jr. and Kennell Jackson.  Ann Arbor:  University of Michigan Press, 2005: 326-345.

“Authenticating Practices: Producing Youth, Performing Realness.” In Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, and the Global, edited by Sunaina Maira and Elisabeth Soep.  Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005: 155-172.

“Visible Seams: Gender, Race, Technology and the Media Art of Fatimah Tuggar.” Signs 30.1 (Autumn 2004): 1429-1454.

“‘Busing it’ in the City: Black Youth, Performance and Public Transit.” TDR: the journal of performance studies 48.2 (Summer 2004): 33-48.