Keja Valens

Professional Details

Title Professor
Department English
Office Meier Hall 249D
Phone 978.542.7050
Photo of Keja Valens

Recent and Upcoming Courses

EDC 880P Student Teaching Practicum in English (8-12)
ENG 709 Literature of the American Dream
ENG 718 Literature of the Sea
ENG 725 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Literature I
ENG 875 Directed Study
ENG 998 Thesis Capstone
ENL 253 Multiethnic American Literature
ENL 318 Food Writing
ENL 352 U.s. Latinx Literature
ENL 491 Queer Theory
ENL 601H Senior Honors Project in English

Professional Biography

Keja Valens received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University in 2004.  She has been at Salem State University since 2005 where she is currently Professor of English.  

Professional Interests

Keja Valens teaches and writes on Caribbean literature, literatures of the Americas, feminisms, literary and queer theory, and food writing. She is fluent in Spanish and French as well as English.


Coordinator of Graduate Programs in English and English Education Lead Faculty

Selected Publications


Culinary Colonialism, Caribbean Cookbooks, and Recipes of National Independence. Rutgers UP, 2024.

Querying Consent: Beyond Permission and Refusal.  Ed. with Jordana Greenblatt.  Rutgers UP, 2018.

A Barbara Johnson Reader.  Ed. with Melissa Feuerstein, Bill Johnson González, and Lili Porten.  Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2014.

Desire between Women in Caribbean Literature.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Passing Lines: Sexuality and Immigration. Ed. with Bradley Epps and Bill Johnson González. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2005.



“Book Review: Alison Donnell’s Creolized Sexualities: Undoing Heteronormativity in the Literary Imagination of the Anglo-Caribbean.” Journal of West Indian Literature, Vol. 31, No. 2 (April, 2023), pages 153-157.

“An Institute-Based Approach to OER in Digital Caribbean Studies” with Perry Collins, Hélène Huet, Laurie Taylor, Brittany Mistretta, Hannah Toombs, Anita Baksh, Nathan H. Dize, Juliet Glenn Callender, Ronald Angelo Johnson, Aaron Kamugisha, K. Adele Okoli, and Laëtitia Saint-Loubert. Using Open Educational Resources to Promote Social Justice, edited by CJ Ivory and Angela Pashia. Association of College and Research Libraries, 2022, pages 285-299. Using Open Educational Resources to Promote Social Justice (

“Home Cooking: Diaspora and Transnational Caribbean Cookbooks.” Becoming Home: Diaspora and the Anglophone Transnational, edited by Jude V. Nixon & Mariaconcetta Costantini. Vernon Press, 2021, pages 109-134.

“Book Review: Patricia Powell’s Me Dying Trial.” Journal of West Indian Literature, Vol 29, No. 1 (Spring, 2021), pages 183-185.

Translation: “Walking: yesterday I dreamed I was traveling” by Sharling Hernández. Bi Women Quarterly Vol. 39 No. 2 (Spring, 2021), pages 3-5.

“Institutionalizing (in)equality: The Double-Edged Sword of Diversity Requirements” with Daniel Delgado.  Teaching Race in Perilous Times.  Eds. Jason Cohen and Dwayne Mack.  SUNY Press, 2021.

“Book Review: Caribbean Jewish Crossings.” New West Indian Guide 95-1&2 (2021).

“Caribbean Ecopoetics: The Categorial Imperative and Indifference in the Caribbean Environment.” Caribbean Literature in Transition, 1970-2020. Eds. Ronald Cummings and Alison Donnell.  Cambridge University Press, 2020, page 371-385. 

Translation: “Around the World: In Search of Freedom” by María Rodríguez. Bi Women Quarterly Vol. 31 No. 3 (Summer 2020), pages 3-5.

“Barbara Johnson.”  Oxford Bibliographies of Literary and Critical Theory, 2019.

“Travesti and Trans Activism in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Global Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History. Eds. Howard Chiang (editor in chief), Anjali Arondekar, Marc Epprecht, Jennifer Evans, Ross Forman, Hanadi al-Samman, Emily Skidmore, Zeb Tortorici. Cengage Learning, 2018.   

“Intertwining Ambivalence, Multiplicity, and Contingency: A Review of Kaisa Ilmonen’s Queer Rebellion in the Novels of Michelle CliffSQS Journal 12.1-2 (2018): 68-70.   


Selected Presentations

"Culinary Colonialism, Caribbean Cookbooks, and Recipes for National Independence." Presbyterian College, South Carolina, April 2024. 

“Dominican Cookbooks and the difficulty of ‘woman version’ under Trujillo.” West Indian Literature Conference, Jamaica, October 2023.

“Pumpkin Soup.” Caribbean Studies Association Conference. St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, June 2023.

"Between Occupation and Dictatorship: Recipes for Haitian Independence," 40th Annual West Indian Literature Conference, Nassau, Bahamas, October 2022.  

“Recipes for Jamaican Independence,” 11th Annual Conference on Food Studies, October, virtual, October 28-30, 2021.

“Diaspora and Transnational Caribbean Home Cooking,” 39th Annual West Indian Literature Conference, virtual, October 29-30, 2021.

“Domestic Control in West Indian Colonial Cookbooks.”  38th Annual West Indian Literature Conference, Georgetown, Guyana, October 16-21, 2019.

“Caribbean Eco-poetics.” 37 Annual West Indian Literature Conference, Miami, Florida, October 3-6, 2018.

“Decolonial Ecopoetics and the Human Animal in the Caribbean Environment” Caribbean Studies Association 43rd Annual Conference, Havana, Cuba, June 5-8, 2018.



Personal Interests

Food, from seed to stomach. Making familia in all kinds of ways.