Ebony Coletu

Ebony Coletu

Assistant Professor of African American Studies, English, and African Studies

Phone: (814) 863-2343


Area(s) of Specialization: Rhetoric of Application Forms; Funding Infrastructures, Biography, Transnational American Studies in the Middle East and Africa, African Diaspora Studies/African Studies


My primary area of research addresses the rhetoric of application forms within a historical and sociological framework that accounts for the way biographic details are used to distribute institutional resources. My current book project, Forms of Submission: Writing for Aid and Opportunity in America explores a 125-year history of applications for financial support, employment, and admission, and the ways institutions address problems with inequality at the level of the applicant’s biography. The second area of research emerged from my previous position, teaching in the Rhetoric Department at The American University in Cairo, and through an affiliation with the Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR). With Ira Dworkin, I co-edited a volume of Comparative American Studies on transnational American Studies in the Middle East and North Africa. I also have two forthcoming articles on Egypt, appearing in The Drama Review and Transition. The third area of research represents my latest project as well as a shift from paperwork to logistics, in an exploration of a little-known back-to-Africa movement that resets the timeline for African American migration to Ghana. Building on research that began as a biography of my ancestor Alfred Charles Sam (1880-1932), the book reconstructs the logistical complexity and inspiration for an African organizing African American return to Ghana in 1915. Pan-African Logistics: Chief Sam and the Origins of African American Migration to Ghana identifies African descendants of the movement, the role of African Americans in an emerging West African nationalism, and the complex interface between blackness, business, and migration.