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 Erik  Nielson
Erik Nielson
Associate Professor, Liberal Arts
Assistant Chair, Master of Liberal Arts
Course areas taught: African American literature, composition, Latin American literature (in translation), rap music, Shakespeare.
Grants and Fellowships
Grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia to develop ENG 295, Latin American Literature in Translation
Grant from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to train faculty in the use of Internet-based teaching technologies
Faculty Mentor for the VCCS Diversity Initiative Program
Nominated for a campus-wide award for excellence in teaching
“The Mother Figure and Rap’s Hidden Feminist Discourse.” National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) 2011 Conference. Atlanta, Ga. November 2011.

“Globalizing the 21st Century English Department.” Roundtable with Robert S. Levine. Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Peer Group Conference. Richmond, Va. October 2010.

“Obama and the Hip Hop Nation.” British Association of American Studies (BAAS) 2010 Conference. University of East Anglia. Norwich, England. April 2010.

“Watching Rap.”  Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) Annual Conference. New Orleans, La. April 2009.

“Surveillance and Rap Music.” Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) Annual Conference. University of British Columbia. Vancouver, Canada. June 2008.

Modern Language Association
Popular Culture Association
British Association of American Studies
Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States
Professional Experience
Assistant Professor (2003-2011)

Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale, VA

Taught the following courses in both traditional and hybrid formats:

  • ENG 111: College Composition I (standard and honors sections)
  • ENG 112: College Composition II (standard and honors sections)
  • ENG 254: Survey of African American Literature II
  • ENG 271: Survey of Shakespeare I
  • ENG 295: Latin American Literature in Translation
  • ENG 295: The History and Poetics of Rap Music      
  • ENG 297: Cooperative Education Internship

Additional responsibilities: Develop new courses; advise students; mentor and evaluate new faculty; supervise student internships; act as Web Editor for Calliope, the student journal of art and literature; maintain leadership roles in a variety of department, division, and college committees.

Distinctions: Received a competitive grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia to develop ENG 295, Latin American Literature in Translation; received a grant from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to train faculty in the use of Internet-based teaching technologies; selected as Faculty Mentor for the VCCS Diversity Initiative Program; nominated for a campus-wide award for excellence in teaching.

Teaching Assistant (2002-2003)

University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, MD

Helped to develop a writing course for all incoming graduate students in the School of Business; assisted professors with the administration of online, graduate-level business management courses; evaluated all written assignments—ranging from short responses to longer research papers—for grammar, coherence, and style; corresponded with students regarding areas for improvement in their writing; reviewed and edited course materials.

Lecturer (2002-2003)

Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, MD

Taught the following courses:

  • ENG 111: Composition and Introduction to Literature I
  • ENG 112: Composition and Introduction to Literature II
Editor (1999-2000)

U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC

Served as on-site editor for the Publications Unit within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice; solicited articles for all newsletters; copy-edited all publications for grammar, style, and conformance with in-house standards; designed and controlled page layout; prepared all publications for posting on the Department of Justice Intranet; conducted extensive legal and non-legal research; assisted attorneys with written and visual presentations given before Congress; designed, implemented, and maintained a database to track all distributed publications.

English Instructor (1998-1999)

InBusiness Institute, Santiago, Chile

Taught English as a second language to business executives; designed classes customized to meet the needs of students with varying levels of English language proficiency; evaluated students’ coursework; created assignments to be completed outside of the classroom.

Selected Publications
Nielson, E. (In progress). Under surveillance: Policing the resistance in Hip Hop.

Gosa, T. L., & Nielson, E. (Eds.). (2015). The Hip Hop & Obama reader.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


Nielson, E. (2014). White surveillance of the Black arts. African American Review, 47(1), 161-177.

Nielson, E. (2012). A “high tension” in Langston Hughes’s Bebop verse. MELUS, 37(4), 165-185.

Nielson, E. (2012). Making room for 'Dear Mama' in Rap lyrics. In Mothering and Hip Hop Culture. Eds. J. Maki Motapanyane & Shana Calixte. Toronto: Demeter Press.

Nielson, E. (Forthcoming in 2012). “Here come the cops”: Policing the resistance in Hip Hop. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(4), 349-363. 

Nielson, E. (2011). “Go in de Wilderness”: Escaping the “Eyes of Others” in the slave songs. Western Journal of Black Studies 35(2), 106-17.

Nielson, E. (2010). “Can't C Me”: Surveillance and Rap music. Journal of Black Studies 40(6), 1254-1274.

Nielson, E. (2010). “We Are Gone”: “Black Steel” and the technologies of presence and absence. Popular Communication 8(2), 120-131.

Nielson, E. (2009). “My President is Black, My Lambo’s Blue”: The Obamafication of Rap? Journal of Popular Music Studies 21(4), 344-363.


Nielson, E. (2009). Watching Rap. Popmatters, 9 Feb.


Nielson, E. (2011). Review of The Anthology of Rap. African American Review, 44(4), 719-721.

B.A., University of Virginia 1998
Echols Interdisciplinary Major
M.A., University College London, University of London 2001
Ph.D., University of Sheffield 2011
English - Dissertion: "Under Surveillance: The Evolution of Black Arts in the United States"
Contact Information
124 Sarah Brunet Hall
(804) 287-1245
(804) 289-8138 (Fax)