Kim D. Hester Williams

Literature (19th Century American, African-American Literature)

Office: Nichols Hall 340
Phone: (707) 664-3136

What I Do at SSU

I primarily teach nineteenth-century American literature courses on American Romanticism, American Transcendentalism, the Literature of Slavery and Freedom, American Gothic Literature, and author courses on Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lydia Maria Child, Ralph W. Emerson, Herman Melville and Toni Morrison. I also teach African American literature, from the early to the contemporary period. Additionally, I am an affiliate faculty member in the American Multicultural Studies department where I teach courses in Ethnic Literature, African American literature and culture, and Language and Ethnicity. I enjoy incorporating visual narrative into my literature classes. One of my favorite courses--and a popular one for students--is "The Literature and Film of American Gothic and Horror."


Kim Hester Williams teaches nineteenth-century American literature, African American literature and culture, and Multi-Ethnic Literature in the U.S. and California. She is an affiliate faculty in the American Multicultural Studies department as well as Women and Gender Studies. Her scholarly research concerns racial and gender representation in literature, particularly Black representation, and contemporary visual representations of race and gender in film, television and new media. Most recently, Dr. Hester Williams has done work on race and ecology broadly and, more directly, ecocriticism applied to the speculative imagination of Octavia Butler.

Her monograph, Minstrel Acts: Black Pain and White Redemption examines the historical trajectory of the &ldquot;magical negro&rdquot; figure from Harriet Beecher Stowe's best-selling nineteenth-century novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, to contemporary twentieth and twenty-first century popular representations of the “the magic negro,” notably in the novels of Stephen King and the film adaptations of King’s fiction, to the science fiction films of Will Smith. Minstrel Acts is centrally concerned with how a historical exploration of “the magical negro” figure can engender a greater understanding of the dialectical intersection between black minstrelsy and Black poetics.

Professor Hester Williams has published essays on the representation of race, gender and economy in music, media, popular culture and film. Additionally, she serves on the editorial board for the journal, Genders, and as a consultant for Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers. Her analysis on media, gender, and race has been cited in numerous essays and on blog websites as well as referenced in books including Mixed Raced Hollywood, The Films of Stephen King, Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present, Black Men Worshipping: Intersecting Anxieties of Race, Gender, and Christian Embodiment, and most recently in A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance (2015) and Gender, Race, and American Science Fiction: Reflections on Fantastic Identities (2015). Her essays have also been taught in courses at the University of Washington, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Cal Poly in a Media Studies graduate course, and included in a course, “Post-Colonial Perspectives on Audiovisual Media,” at the Stockholm University department of Cinema Studies.

In addition to her scholarly work, she writes poetry which is feminist-centered and grounded in the long tradition of African American womanist poetics.

Selected Scholarship

Book Monograph

Minstrel Acts: Black Pain and White Redemption in the American Liberal Imagination (Currently under review)

Published Essays

Hester-Williams, Kim D. “Eminem, Masculine Striving, and the Dangers of Possessive Individualism,” Genders 46. Fall 2007. <>

Hester-Williams, Kim D.. “(Neo)Slaves: Slavery and African American Apotheosis in The Matrix and CandyMan,” Genders 40. Special edition: “Scared of the Dark: Race, Gender and the ‘Horror Film,’” Fall 2004. <>

Hester-Williams, Kim. "The Reification of Race in Cyberspace: African American Expressive Culture, FUBU and a Search for 'Beloved Community' on the Net." Mots Pluriels. Special Issue: “The Net: New Apprentices, Old Masters,” October 2001.