Robert Gooding-Williams holds appointments in both the Philosophy Department and the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), where he is a member of the Core Faculty and founding director of the Center for Race, Philosophy, and Social Justice. His areas of research and teaching interest include Social and Political Philosophy (esp. antiracist critical theory), the History of African-American Political Thought, 19th Century European Philosophy (esp. Nietzsche), Existentialism, and Aesthetics (including literature and philosophy, representations of race in film, and the literary theory and criticism of African-American literature).
Before coming to Columbia, Gooding-Williams taught at the University of Chicago (2006-2014), where he was the Ralph and Mary Otis Isham Professor of Political Science and the College, and Northwestern University (1998-2005), where he was Professor of Philosophy, director of the Alice Berline Kaplan Center for the Humanities (2003-2005), Adjunct Professor of African American Studies, and an affiliate of the Program in Critical Theory. Before coming to Northwestern, Gooding-Williams taught at Amherst College (1988-98), where he was Professor of Black Studies and George Lyman Crosby 1896 Professor of Philosophy, and at Simmons College (1983-88), where he taught philosophy and directed the program in Afro-American Studies.
Gooding-Williams is the author of Zarathustra's Dionysian Modernism (Stanford, 2001); Look, A Negro! Philosophical Essays on Race, Culture, and Politics (Routledge, 2005); and In The Shadow of Du Bois: Afro-Modern Political Thought in America (Harvard, 2009). In 2010, In the Shadow of Du Bois received two book commendations: one, for the Best Book on Race, Ethnicity and Political Thought, awarded by the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics section of the APSA (American Political Science Association); and the second, an Honorable Mention citation in connection to the David Easton Award, awarded by the Foundations of Political Theory section of the APSA. Over the course of his career, Gooding-Williams has been awarded numerous fellowships, including an NEH Independent Scholars and College Teachers Fellowship, two Andrew Mellon Faculty Fellowships, and a Laurance A. Rockefeller Fellowship awarded by Princeton University’s University Center for Human Values.
Gooding-Williams was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018.