Kim Hester Williams' scholarly research concerns racial representation in nineteenth-century literature and contemporary popular culture and visual representations of race in film and new media.
Dr. Hester Williams is co-editor of a collection of interdisciplinary essays on race and environment, Racial Ecologies (2018). The book collection includes a chapter she authored titled, "Earthseeds of Change: Post-Apocalyptic Mythmaking, Race, and Ecology in The Book of Eli and Octavia Butler’s Womanist Parables.” She has also published essays on the representation of race, gender and economy in new media, popular culture, and film. Her current scholarship considers race, ecology, and Afro-eco-poetics with particular attention to the work of science fiction writer Octavia Butler. Additionally, Dr. Hester Williams serves as a consultant for Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers. Her analysis on media, gender, and race has been cited in numerous essays and on blog websites as well as referenced in books including Mixed Raced Hollywood, The Films of Stephen King, Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present, and Black Men Worshipping: Intersecting Anxieties of Race, Gender, and Christian Embodiment. Her essays have been taught in courses at the University of Washington, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Cal Poly in a Media Studies graduate course, and included in a course, "Post-Colonial Perspectives on Audiovisual Media," at the Stockholm University department of Cinema Studies.
Dr. Hester Williams’ current book monograph, Minstrel Acts: Black Pain and White Redemption in the American Imagination, examines the historical trajectory of the "magical negro" figure from Harriet Beecher Stowe's best-selling nineteenth-century novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, to contemporary twentieth and twenty-first century popular representations of the "the magic negro," most notably in the novels of Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jonathan Lethem, as well as in films featuring Denzel Washington and Will Smith, Black Panther, and G.O.A.T. sports figure Serena Williams. Throughout the book, she explores the dialectical relationship between the commodification and consumption of “blackness” and the ongoing persistence of the ideology of “white" supremacy.
In addition to her scholarly work, she writes poetry which is feminist-centered and grounded in the long tradition of African American womanist poetics.