Fred Moten

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Fred Moten
Born1962 (age 56–57)
EducationB.A, Harvard University; PhD in English, University of California, Berkeley
OccupationProfessor, poet, scholar
EmployerNew York University
Known forPoetry and essays on African-American culture
Notable work
The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, 2013, (coauthored with Stefano Harney); In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, 2003; The Little Edges, 2014; The Feel Trio, 2014; B Jenkins, 2010; Hughson’s Tavern, 2008)

Fred Moten (born 1962) is an American poet and scholar whose work explores critical theory, black studies, and performance studies. Moten is professor of performance studies at New York University and has taught previously at University of California, Riverside, Duke University, Brown University, and the University of Iowa. His scholarly texts include The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study which was co-authored with Stefano Harney, In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, and The Universal Machine (Duke University Press, 2018).[1] He has published numerous poetry collections, including The Little Edges, The Feel Trio, B Jenkins, and Hughson’s Tavern.[2]


Fred Moten was born in Las Vegas in 1962 and was raised in the segregated black neighborhood on the western end of the city. His parents were among the black families that comprised the Great Migration, the time period in US history when many black families moved from the deep south to seek out new prospects in the northern and western parts of the country. His parents were originally from Louisiana and Arkansas and after resettling in Las Vegas, his father found employment at the Las Vegas Convention Center (and later worked for Pan American Airlines), and his mother worked as a grade school teacher.[3]

Moten enrolled in Harvard University in 1980 hoping to pursue a degree in economics. His interest in sociopolitical discourse, the work of Noam Chomsky, civic outreach, and political activism led him away from his studies. At the end of his first year, Moten was required to take a year leave. During this time, he worked as a janitor at the Nevada Test Site, wrote poetry, and discovered the works of T.S. Eliot and Joseph Conrad, among many others.[4] His return to Harvard was more successful and led to developing his understanding of prose and finding more inspiration for his own work. It was also during this time that he met his would-be collaborator Stefano Harney. After graduating from Harvard, Moten went on to pursue his PhD at University of California, Berkeley.[3]

Critical work[edit]

Moten makes considerable intellectual contributions to the discourses of Black studies, poetry & poetics, critical race theory and contemporary American Literature in many ways. Recently, he was profiled by Harvard Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, and about his life and work in scholarship. In 2016, he was awarded the Stephen E. Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry by the African American Literature and Culture Society and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Moten's work The Feel Trio (2014) was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was a poetry finalist for the National Book Award.[2] He also received a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Roy Lichtenstein Award (2018).

He has served on numerous editorial boards including American Quarterly, Callaloo, Social Text, and Discourse. He has served on advisory boards for Issues in Critical Investigation at Vanderbilt University, the Critical Theory Institute at the University of California, Irvine, and was on the board of directors of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at City University of New York.[5]. As of September 2018, Moten is an associate professor in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he teaches courses in Black studies, poetics, and critical race theory. [6]


  • Moten, Fred The Universal Machine (consent not to be a single being) (Duke University Press, 2018)
  • Moten, Fred Stolen Life (consent not to be a single being) (Duke University Press, 2018)
  • Moten, Fred Black and Blur (consent not to be a single being) (Duke University Press, 2017)
  • Moten, Fred The Service Porch (Letter Machine Editions, 2016)
  • Moten, Fred and Harney, Stefano A Poetics of the Undercommons' (Sputnik and Fizzle, 2016)
  • Moten, Fred and Wu Tsang, Who touched me? (If I Can’t Dance, I Don't Want to be Part of Your Revolution, 2016)
  • Moten, Fred The Little Edges (Wesleyan University Press, 2015)
  • Moten, Fred The Feel Trio (Letter Machine Editions, 2014)
  • Moten, Fred and Harney, Stefano The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Minor Compositions/Autonomedia, 2013)
  • Moten, Fred B. Jenkins (Duke University Press, 2010)
  • Moten, Fred Hughson’s Tavern (Leon Works, 2009)
  • Moten, Fred In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003)


  1. ^ Moten, Fred (2018). The Universal Machine. Duke University Press. p. 305. ISBN 9780822370550.
  2. ^ a b Moten, Fred (7 November 2014). "Fred Moten". Fred Moten. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b "The Low End Theory". 8 December 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  4. ^ Stasio, Nicole Campbell, Frank. "Duke Professor Carries On Tradition Of Black Radical Poetry". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Fred Moten - UCR - Department of English". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  6. ^ Moten, Fred. "Professor". Tisch Directory. Retrieved March 20, 2019.