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SUNY Potsdam Faculty Members Publish Study of Contemporary Black Satire

April 29, 2024
SUNY Potsdam English Professors Dr. Derek C. Maus & Dr. James J. Donahue Co-Publish ‘Greater Atlanta: Black Satire After Obama’ 

SUNY Potsdam English Professors Dr. Derek C. Maus and Dr. James J. Donahue co-edited “Greater Atlanta: Black Satire After Obama,” recently published by the University of Mississippi Press.

Ten years after the publication of their first book-length collaboration, two faculty members from SUNY Potsdam’s Department of English have again teamed up to co-edit a collection of scholarly essays about contemporary African American literature and popular culture.  

Professors Dr. Derek C. Maus and Dr. James J. Donahue co-edited “Greater Atlanta: Black Satire After Obama,” which was published by the University Press of Mississippi on April 23 and is now available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook versions. 

“This project began as a way to manage the stresses of the early months of the pandemic,” said Maus. “In those spare moments when we weren’t teaching online or trying to find a store that had toilet paper and hand-sanitizer for sale, we were both re-watching the first two seasons of ‘Atlanta’ for comic relief. Before long, we realized that we might have stumbled upon the follow-up to our previous collection and by May of 2020 we had a contract for it.” 

“Greater Atlanta” builds on “Post-Soul Satire: Black Identity after Civil Rights,” which was published in 2014, also by the University Press of Mississippi. Whereas the first book featured essays that examined how a generation of African American artists who came of age after the Civil Rights Movement have used satire to express themselves, the new collection focuses much more closely on creative works that have appeared in the years after the sense of “hope and change” surrounding Barack Obama’s election as president faded. 

“Although we’re both huge fans of the show, we didn’t want the book to be just about ‘Atlanta,’” said Donahue. “We instead were looking for essays that considered how the show is a perfect example of a more general shift within African American satire. Everywhere we looked, we saw stuff coming out that fit this new mold, so we wanted to think about why that was happening.” 

The 17 essays in “Greater Atlanta” collectively survey more than a dozen novels, films, and television shows that together reveal the ways in which contemporary Black satire has largely dispensed with satire’s presumed expectations of social reform and instead offers an exasperated self-affirmation that echoes the straightforward declaration that Black Lives Matter. 

The collection has already been favorably reviewed by ‘Publisher’s Weekly,” which praises the way its “erudite analysis unpacks the complex ideas embedded in the series’s surreal vision of Atlanta.” 

About the authors: 

James J. Donahue is Professor of English at SUNY Potsdam. He is primarily interested in the study of narrative form, particularly with how authors construct their narratives to engage in social and political commentary. In his scholarship, he works primarily at the intersection of narrative theory and identity studies, with a particular focus on race and representation. His other interests include historical fiction, experimental narratives, and the Beat movement. Donahue is the author of “Indigenous Comics and Graphic Novels: Studies in Genre,” “Contemporary Native Fiction: Toward a Narrative Poetics of Survivance” and “Failed Frontiersman: White Men and Myth in the Post-Sixties American Historical Romance.” Donahue also co-edited “Narrative, Race and Ethnicity in the United States,” along with Jennifer Ho and Shaun Morgan. Donahue earned his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and a master’s degree from Boston College before completing his Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut. He has been on the SUNY Potsdam faculty since 2007. 

Derek C. Maus is Professor of English at SUNY Potsdam. He received his bachelor’s degree in history and English from the University of Arkansas, and went on to earn his master’s and his Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina. Since joining the SUNY Potsdam faculty in 2001, he has taught more than 50 different courses on a wide range of topics, primarily dealing with contemporary literature. Maus has received both the SUNY Potsdam President’s Award and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award, as well as a Fulbright Lecturing Grant to Austria, the Eakin Visiting Fellowship in Canadian Studies at McGill University, and the American Council of Learned Societies Project Development Grant. He is the author of “Unvarnishing Reality: Subversive Russian and American Cold War Satire,” “Jesting in Earnest: Percival Everett and Menippean Satire,”  “Understanding Colson Whitehead,” and co-edited “Finding a Way Home: Critical Essays on Walter Mosley” with Owen E. Brady.  

SUNY Potsdam’s Department of English challenges its students with courses that develop their abilities to interpret a variety of written, oral, and multimedia forms in which humans communicate with one another, as well as to express themselves effectively in those forms. For more information, visit 

About SUNY Potsdam:  

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit 

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