Brenda F. Berrian

  • Professor Emeritus, Department of Africana Studies
  • Professor, Department of English
  • Professor; Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies


4162 Wesley W. Posvar Hall



  • BS, French, Hampton Institute
  • MA, French, Hampton Institute
  • Doctorate de 3e cycle in North American Studies, Universite de Paris III-Nouvelle Sorbonne

Prof. Berrian is the recipient of many fellowships and awards, among them the Social Science Research Council Grant for Nigeria, Kenya and  Zambia; Southern Fellowship Fund for post-doctoral studies at Howard University; Fulbright Group Study Abroad and Research Project Award for Guyana, South America;  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Grant; Provost Development Grant; Caribbean 2000 Rockefeller Resident Post-doctoral Fellowship at the University of Puerto Rico; Hewlett Grant; Summer National Endowment for the Humanities Grant for Senegal; and Rockefeller Foundation’s Scholarly Residency in Bellagio, Italy. In February 2002, as a scholar for the U.S. Department of State in West Africa and Europe, Berrian was the keynote speaker for the first African American Studies Interdisciplinary Conference at Bogazici University in Istanbul Turkey. In 2005, she was the recipient of the Zouk Award at the First Zouk Festival in Guadeloupe, French Caribbean.

Prof. Berrian’s publications include Awakening Spaces: French Caribbean Popular Music, Culture and Songs (U of Chicago Press, 2000). It is the first book in English about popular music of the twentieth century from Martinique and Guadeloupe and has been consulted by ethnomusicologists around the world. Her Bibliography of African Women Writers and Journalists (Three Continents Press, 1985) and Bibliography of Caribbean Women Writers (Three Continents Press, 1989) have been standard references for research on women writers from the two regions.  Race, Identity, and Privilege from the US to the Congo (2021), her first memoir, relates her experiences as a daughter, student, teacher and tourist in the United States, Canada, France, Central. West and South Africa. Essays have appeared in per reviewed journals and academic texts.

Public Service (National/International)

  • Hosted the 1988 African Literature Association Conference
  • Guest lectures at various universities and venues in West Europe, East, West, and South Africa, and the Caribbean
  • Keynote speaker at the first African American Studies Interdisciplinary Perspectives Conference, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Former book review editor of MaComere, the journal for the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars

Professional Affiliations

Recent Publications

  • Bibliography of African Women Writers and Journalists (Three Continents, 1985)
  • Bibliography of Women Writers from the Caribbean (Three Continents, 1989)
  • Awakening Spaces: French Caribbean Popular Songs, Music and Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2000)
  • Guest editor of a special issue of The Shooting Star Review #25 (1993) about Caribbean literature
  • Articles and chapters about African and Caribbean women writers, French Caribbean music and lyrics, and music in French African and Caribbean films