College of Education and Human Development

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Justin Grinage

  • Assistant Professor

  • Office Hours

    By appointment

Justin Grinage

Areas of interest

Critical Whiteness Studies, Racial Literacy, Critical Literacy, Black Education, Curriculum Studies, Affect and Emotions


PhD, University of Minnesota


The focus of my research centers on analyzing processes of racialization in school and
classroom spaces through several areas of inquiry including critical whiteness studies, Black
education, neoliberal multiculturalism, and critical literacy. Most prominently, I have
developed the concept of racial melancholia to analyze racial trauma in education research,
theory, and practice. The theory of racial melancholia and its connections to education involve
how our racial identities are forged through an entangled history of racial violence and the
resulting loss that originates from this violence. My research considers the ways in which this
relationship structures how schools and classrooms reproduce racism, how we teach and learn
about racial issues, and how critical education can become a site of resistance to the harmful
aspects of racial trauma.

What students can expect from me? 

I believe the purpose of teaching is to empower students by helping them understand the importance of equity and guiding them to value the transformative possibilities of learning. To accomplish these aims, I structure my classes around three interrelated principles: critical thinking, critical literacy, and anti-oppressive teaching. These three concepts exemplify what I value most as an educator. I strive to embody the same principles in my work advising Ph.D. students. I approach this through attempting to break down some of the neoliberal aspects of academia by stressing collaboration and minimizing competition. I encourage students to cultivate and explore their passions for research and scholarship and to support one another in these pursuits. For me, the creation of community is paramount when helping Ph.D. students navigate academia.

Courses Taught

CI 8431—Literacy in a Post-Truth Era 
CI 8461—Sociocultural Theory, Education and Literacy 
CI 5441—Teaching Literature in Secondary Schools 
CI 5481—Developments in the Teaching of English and Speech


National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, Spencer Foundation, 2021

Janet Emig Award (Best Article Award for Reopening racial wounds: Whiteness, melancholia, and affect in the English classroom in the journal English Education)--National Council of Teachers of English, 2020 

Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice (FTOC) Fellow, Institute for Teachers of Color, Riverside CA. 2020:

Cultivating New Voices Among Scholars of Color Fellowship, National Council of Teachers of English 2018-2020:

Curriculum Inquiry Writing Retreat Fellowship, Curriculum Inquiry, OISE, University of Toronto 2016: Outstanding Association Leadership, Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee, Education Minnesota, 2018


Grinage, J. (Accepted). Feeling anti-racism: How neoliberal multiculturalism and racialized emotions impede equity in the aftermath of George Floyd. Race Ethnicity and Education.


Oto, R., Rombalski, A., Grinage, J. (2023). The role of racial literacy in U.S. K-12 research: A review of the literature. Race Ethnicity and Education, 1-18. DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2022.2047635


Grinage, J. (2020). Singing and dancing for diversity: Neoliberal multiculturalism and white epistemological ignorance in teacher professional development. Curriculum Inquiry, 50(1), 7-27. DOI: 10.1080/03626784.2020.1754114


Grinage, J. (2019). Endless mourning: Racial melancholia, black grief, and the transformative possibilities for racial justice in education. Harvard Educational Review, 89(2), 227-250. Conversation about the article here: Scholar Spotlight.


Grinage, J. (2019). Reopening racial wounds: Whiteness, melancholia, and affect in the English classroom. English Education, 51(2), 126-150. (Winner of the 2020 Janet Emig Award for best article in English Education)


Grinage, J. (2018, February). Socializing with the ghosts of our racial past: Embracing traumatic teaching and learning in literacy education. Scholars Speak Out Series, Journal of Language and Literacy, 1-9.


Grinage, J. (2014). Reterritorializing locations of home: Examining the psychopolitical dimensions of race talk in the classroom. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 30(2), 88- 102.


Badenhorst, P., Tanner, S.J., & Grinage, J. (Eds.) (2023). Reckoning with the Whiteness of English
Education: Transformative Pedagogies in English Language Arts and Beyond. Teachers
College Press.

Sponsored Projects 

Racial Melancholia and Education: A Critical Ethnographic Study of Racism, Trauma, and Resistance in the Aftermath of Tragedy in Minneapolis. Sponsored by National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation

News Stories

USA Today- “How to cope with grief after watching the video of Tyre Nichols” Feb 1, 2023

Under-told Stories Podcast- “Minding the education gap: Racial disparities in education” March 2022

PBS News Hour- “How Minnesota’s lack of teachers of color hurts students, and what reform
could look like” Oct 27, 2021

University of Minnesota- “Justin Grinage receives Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship”  June 1, 2021

University of Minnesota- “Grinage, Rombalski receive Curriculum Inquiry writing fellowship”
Apr 4, 2018

University of Minnesota- “Grinage selected as CNV scholars of Color fellow by National Council
of Teachers of English” Sep 18, 2018