Jacqueline Brice-Finch is professor of Africana literature at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She received her B.A. in English and French from Howard University, an M.A. in literature from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Maryland at College Park. She is a fifth-generation native of Washington, D.C. and attended public schools there. She says that from the age of six, " I have wanted to teach, to share ideas with others and to indulge in my passion to read. . . .By the time I entered high school I knew that I wanted to teach either nursery school students or college students. The little ones are so wonderfully inquisitive and the older ones volunteer for ntellectual stimulation. . . .By seventeen, my academic goal was to obtain a Ph.D. in literature. My career goal was to teach on the university level."
Her dissertation topic for her Ph.D. was "The Caribbean Diaspora: Four Aspects, in Novels from 1970-1985." There was, at the time, no course in the university in Caribbean literature, but interest in this discipline after department faculty members served on her dissertation committee prompted them to hire Caribbean scholars after her graduation.
Dr. Brice-Finch has taught grades nine through graduate school. For nineteen years she lived in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, teaching first at the St. Croix Central High School where she chaired the English department for three years. Next, she taught the English department course offerings at the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix campus. In 1989 Hurricane Hugo "nudged" her to consider leaving the Islands for the mainland and she accepted a position at James Madison University. She was hired to introduce courses in Caribbean literature on the graduate and undergraduate levels. To this end, she developed Studies in Caribbean Literature and Graduate Studies in Caribbean Literature. She has developed courses focusing on the Caribbean bildungsroman and VS Naipaul as well as a course on Caribbean Women Novelists of the 1990s.
Her course offerings also include the courses in African American literature, including Introduction to African American Literature, Major Black Writers: Fiction, Major Black Writers: Poetry, and Graduate Studies in African American Literature. She has taught seminars on African American Women Poets, Toni Morrison, and the African American Short Story.
In the spring of 1995 she was a visiting professor in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, teaching the courses usually taught by Dennis Brutus, famed South African poet who, at the time, was participating in the University's Semester at Sea program.
Over the years her research focus has become contemporary Africana writers, and she has written articles and made professional presentations about such writers as Buchi Emecheta, Merle Hodge, VS Naipaul, Paule Marshall, Brenda Marie Osbey, Lawrence Scott, Olive Senior, Ernest Gaines, Alice Walker, and the Delaney Sisters. She is currently editing a book on issues in Africana literature with a colleague at California State University at Northridge.
She is active in a number of professional organizations. Her favorite sport is swimming and she tries to get to the Caribbean yearly to snorkel. She collects college mugs, and creative writing is another passion. She writes poetry and has been published in an anthology Moving Beyond Boundaries: International Dimensions of Black Women's Writing.