African-American Literature

Scholars of African American literature at Washington University write and teach on subjects ranging from black foodways to children’s books, Phillis Wheatley to Motown, the FBI to the radicalism it pursued across the Black Atlantic.  This range is an index of our program’s strength: we do not presume to study a literary tradition older than the U.S. through a single theoretical perspective, a single historical filter, or a single faculty member.  But our work nevertheless clusters around a few common concerns: the long Harlem Renaissance (all of us have edited collections of New Negro writing); the real and imagined ties among black music, black textuality, and black autobiography; the tense but necessary dialogue between black and white American literatures; and the continuing conversation between black literature as taught and historicized and black literature as lived and reinvented in the present.

Faculty Experts