Institute Director / email@example.com
Maryemma Graham is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas. She received a bachelor’s in English and journalism from University of North Carolina, a master’s in English from Northwestern University, a master’s in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and a doctorate in English and American Studies from Cornell. She is the founder and Director of the Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW), which is the only archive of its kind dedicated to literary recovery, academic/professional training, public outreach and digital access. She is the author or editor of ten books, including The Cambridge History of African American Literature (with Jerry W. Ward, Jr.), the first comprehensive African American literary history to be published in the 21st century. At KU, Graham founded the Langston Hughes Poetry Project and while President of the Toni Morrison Society, created Language Matters, an international teaching initiative. In 2010, she created the Wright Connection, an online community for the study of Richard Wright. Graham has been a John Hope Franklin Fellow at the National Humanities Center, an ACLS fellow and a recipient of more than fifteen grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mellon and Ford Foundations. In 2013, Graham will publish (with C.B. Claiborne) her first multimedia book, Margaret Walker’s South, from the University Press of Mississippi and in 2014, her long awaited biography, The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker, will be released by Oxford.
Anthony Bolden is Associate Professor of African/African American Studies at the University of Kansas. Professor Bolden completed his B.A. in English at Dillard University, his M.A. in Afro-American Studies at the University of Iowa, and his Ph.D. in English at Louisiana State University. He has been a professor at Dillard University as well as the University of Alabama. His teaching and research interests include African-American music, African-American Literature, African-American Cultural Theory, African-American Intellectual History, and African Literature. He has published extensively on Funk and Blues. Both of his books, Afro-Blue: Improvisations in African American Poetry and Culture (2004) and The Funk Era and Beyond: New Perspectives on Black Popular Culture (2008) are part of the institute’s readings.
Joanne Gabbin is a Professor of English as well as the Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University, the most important institution for black poetry in the country. She earned her B.A. in English at Morgan State College in Maryland, her M.A. from the University of Chicago in American Literature, with special focus in Black Literature, and her Ph.D. in English Language and Literature also from the University of Chicago. Before teaching at JMU, she taught in the English Department at Lincoln University. In addition to teaching English at JMU she has also served as Director of the Honors Program there. She is author of Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition, editor of The Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present and The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry, and executive producer of The Furious Flower video and DVD series. A dedicated teacher and scholar, she has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship. In October 2005, Dr. Gabbin was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.
Howard Rambsy II is Associate Professor of Literature and the Director of the Black Studies Program at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville. He teaches African American literature courses and coordinates weekly public humanities programs. His writings on Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, Aaron McGruder, and black poetry have appeared in African American Review, The Southern Quarterly, Black Issues Book Review, The Crisis magazine, and Mississippi Quarterly. His book, The Black Arts Enterprise (2011), focuses on a defining African American literary and cultural movement of the 1960s and 1970s that involved figures such as Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, and Nikki Giovanni and is a key institute text. He has designed several mixed media exhibits featuring literature, and he blogs frequently about poetry.
Jerry W. Ward, Jr. is a retired Professor of English from Dillard University), a Famous Overseas Professor at Central China Normal University (Wuhan) and Adjunct Research Associate at the University of Kansas. He earned his B.S. in Mathematics from Tougaloo College and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia. He is a poet and literary critic. He has taught at universities and colleges nationwide, including Tougaloo College, Grinnell College, New York University, the University of Mississippi, Talladega College and the University of Utah. Ward has published six books, including the anthology Trouble the Water: 250 Years of African American Poetry and THE KATRINA PAPERS: A Journal of Trauma and Recovery, and most recently co-edited The Richard Wright Encyclopedia with Robert Butler and The Cambridge History of African American Literature with Maryemma Graham. Ward's signature poem is "Jazz to Jackson to John." Some of his other works include Black Southern Voices and Redefining American Literary History. Ward is currently working on Richard Wright: One Reader's Responses and a book of essays to be entitled Reading Race Reading America.
Melissa Watterworth Batt
Melissa Watterworth Batt is Curator of Alternative Press, Literary and Natural History Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut Libraries. As literary curator, she oversees and introduces students to the personal papers and manuscripts of over 100 American writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, including poets associated with the Black Mountain, Beat, and New York Schools of poetry. She holds a Master of Arts in History and Master of Science, Library and Information Science from Simmons College. She previously held the position of Project Coordinator for Connecticut History Online, a resource of digital cultural heritage materials from museums, libraries and archives throughout the state. She also served as Technical Archivist at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1998 to 2003.
Adam Bradley is Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He completed his B.A. in English at Lewis & Clark College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University. Before becoming a professor at the University of Colorado, he taught at Claremont College McKenna College in California. The author of many texts, Professor Bradley has provided the seminal handbook for studying contemporary black poetry, redefining the concept of poetics in his groundbreaking Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop (2009), which is one of the critical texts for the institute. Presently Bradley is at work on several projects, including a book exploring the poetics of popular song. What unites Adam’s work is his belief that the most powerful cultural expressions are equally the product of tradition and innovation. This vernacular process of fusing the inherited or even the imposed with the imagined helps explain the beauty we find in everything from a classical symphony to a gutbucket blues, from an epic poem to a rap freestyle.
Kathleen Bethel is the African American Studies Librarian at Northwestern University Library, Evanston, IL. Bethel attended Elmhurst College, receiving a B.A. in Political Science. She received a M.A.L.S. from Dominican University and a M.A. in African history from Northwestern University. She has worked at the Johnson Publishing Company library, the Newberry Library, and the Maywood and Wilmette Public Libraries. Currently serving on the Council, the governing body of the American Library Association, Bethel is active with the African American Studies Librarianship Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Black Caucus of ALA. Kathleen is involved in library leadership, diversity, recruitment, and research activities. Bethel has worked on various projects exploring and documenting Black life and culture. She served as an International Non-governmental Observer for the first national elections in South Africa, and 2 years later, as a Fulbright Library Fellow posted to the University of Durban-Westville, now the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She consulted on Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History's Africa Project. She has written biographical entries, book reviews, reports, and bibliographies on a variety of topics in Black Studies.
Anthony Grooms is a Professor of Creative Writing and Interdisciplinary Studies at Kennesaw State University. He received his B.A. in Theater and Speech from the College of William and Mary and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Grooms, who writes on a variety of subjects, is best known for Bombingham, a novel set during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Other works include Ice Poems, a chapbook of poems, and Trouble No More, a collection of short stories. Among his many awards are two Lillian Smith Prizes for fiction, a Hurston-Wright Legacy Finalist award, the Sokolov Scholarship from the Bread Load Writers’ Conference, the Lamar Lectureship of Wesleyan College, an Arts Administration Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Fulbright Fellowship for teaching and research in Sweden. The Georgia Center for the Book chose Trouble No More and Bombingham for the “Top 25 List of Books All Georgians Should Read.” His interest in expatriate black writers brings him to the institute, where he will share information on recently discovered communities in Sweden here black poets have lived since the 1960s.
Joseph Harrington is Professor of English at KU. He earned his B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University and his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Harrington is a poet and critic. His published works include Things Come On: an amneoir (2011), a mixed-genre work relating the twinned narratives of the Watergate scandal and his mother's cancer. That text was selected by National Book Award-winning poet Camille Dungy as a Rumpus magazine Poetry Book Club selection. He is also the author of the chapbook Earth Day Suite (2010) and the critical work Poetry and the Public (2002). His creative work also has appeared in Hotel Amerika, No Tell Motel, 1913, BathHouse, Otoliths, Fact-Simile, and Tarpaulin Sky, among others.
William Joe Harris
William J. Harris is Professor of American Literature and Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Kansas. He received his B.A. in English from Central State University, his M.A. in Creative Writing as well as his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Stanford. Professor Harris has taught at Cornell, the University of California- Riverside, Harvard, State University of New York- Stony Brook, and the Penn State University. His areas of research include American Literature, African American Literature, jazz studies, American poetry and creative writing. Professor Harris has published poetry in fifty anthologies, such as Every Goodby Ain’t Gone (2006) and Begin Again (2011). His books of poems include Hey Fella Would You Mind Holding This Piano A Moment (1974), In My Own Dark Way (1977), Domande Personali (2010) and Crooners (2011). He is the editor or co-editor of The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader (1991, 2000), Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of African American Literary Tradition (1997) and a double issue of The African American Review on Amiri Baraka (Summer/Fall 2003). He is an editor or advisory editor for The African American Review, mixed blood, the University of Iowa Press Contemporary North American Poetry Series, Penn Sound: Amiri Baraka and Modern American Poetry: Amiri Baraka. His awards and fellowships include the College of the Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher Award (Penn State), and the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship (Harvard University). He was a member of the Jazz Study Group at Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies for over a decade. His book, The Poetry and Poetics of Amiri Baraka: The Jazz Aesthetic (1986) serves as a major source for our understanding of the tradition of jazz poetry in the 1960s.
Clarence W. Hunter was born in Washington, D. C. on September 17th, 1929. He was educated in the D. C. Public Schools, including extensive mentoring from Dr. Carter G. Woodson at the Association for Study of Negro Life and History. Hunter received his AB degree from Howard University in 1951. He would go on to receive a Masters in Science degree from Teacher’s College Columbia, and a Masters in Library Science from the University of Southern Mississippi. Hunter served in the United States Army during the Korean Incident, receiving an honorable discharge. He taught in Uganda, East Africa for six years under a grant from Teacher’s College. He has worked at Tougaloo College, Tougaloo Mississippi, since 1989 as Archivist and curator of the Tougaloo College Civil Rights Collection.
Meta DuEwa Jones
Meta DuEwa Jones is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Co-Director for the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies. She earned her B.A. in English from Princeton and her M.A. in English from Stanford. Before joining the faculty at the University of Texas, Professor Jones taught at George Washington University. Her research interests include 20th- and 21st-century American poetry and poetics, especially in relationship to gender, sexuality and performance studies; African-American literature, criticism and theory; textual studies; jazz; gender and sexuality studies; and visual culture studies. Her recently published book, The Muse is Music: Jazz Poetry From the Harlem Renaissance to Spoken Word (2011), highlights the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality within the jazz tradition and its legacy in hip hop. The book focuses on musical, visual, oral and technological performance with a special focus on poets involved in contemporary venues for black writing such as the Dark Room Collective and the Cave Canem Foundation. It recently received honorable mention for the William Sanders Scarborough Prize from the Modern Language Association.
Jill Kuhnheim is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, as well as the Director for the Center of Latin American Studies at the University of Kansas. She earned her B.A. in English from Reed College in Portland and her Ph.D. in Spanish Literature from the University of California, San Diego. Before the University of Kansas, Professor Kuhnheim taught at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the University of Kentucky – Lexington, and Miami University of Ohio. Her principal areas of research and teaching are contemporary poetry, cultural studies, and gender studies in Spanish America. Her most recent book, Spanish American Poetry at the End of the 20th Century: Textual Disruptions (2004) examines the variety of cultural roles played by poetry in late 20th-century Spanish America; it was awarded the Byron Caldwell Award for best book in the Humanities from the Hall Center in 2005. Professor Kuhnheim is currently working on a project that studies poetry and performance in Spanish America from the earlier 20th-century until the present day.
R. Baxter Miller
R. Baxter Miller is Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Georgia. The editor of the Langston Hughes Review, he has written or edited ten books, including the internationally acclaimed Black American Literature and Humanism and The Art and Imagination of Langston Hughes, which won the American Book Award for 1991. One of five co-editors and co-authors to bring out Call and Response: The Riverside Edition of African American Literature (1998, 2003), he specializes in the study of poetics across the centuries. His most important essays are extensively revised and published as Artistry of Memory (2008). Of his ten volumes, the critical edition Black American Poets between Worlds, 1940-1960 (1986) is an academic bestseller, and The Southern Trace in Black Critical Theory (1991), a critical study, helped establish the new series of the Xavier Review Press. Much of his revised oeuvre appears as The Artistry of Memory. Miller has published widely in such journals as American Literary Scholarship, Southern Literary Journal, Mississippi Quarterly, South Atlantic Review, Journal of the Midwestern Modern Language Association, MELUS (Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States), African American Review, American Studies Yearbook (of Eastern Europe), and International Journal for the Humanities. He has earned both the Langston Hughes Award and the Ford-Turpin honor for the stewardship of African American critical legacy.
Opal Moore is a poet, writer, Professor of English and Creative Writing and Director of the Honors Program at Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga. She earned her B.F.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University, her M.A. from the Iowa School of Art and M.F.A. from the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop. Moore has held teaching positions at the University of Iowa, Virginia State University, Radford University, Hollins College, and was a Fulbright professor at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universitaet in Germany, lecturing on African American women's literature. She is the author of Lot's Daughters and her fiction and poetry have appeared in journals and anthologies and online journals, including Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present, 100 Best African American Poems, The Notre Dame Review, Callaloo, MiPoesia, and Honey, Hush! An Anthology of African American Women's Humor. Recently her poems have appeared in performance art collaborations. The performance work, The Delfina Project, a meditation on the Middle Passage, was presented in various readings and forums in the U.S. and six cities in Germany. She has served as co-editor (with Donnarae MacCann) of the column "Multicultural Literature" for the Children's Literature Association Quarterly, which examined the representations of ethnicities in children's and young adult literatures. Her articles on this subject have also appeared in The Black American in Books for Children (1985), The Role of Illustration in Multicultural Literature for Youth (1997) and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: A Casebook (Oxford UP, 1999). Her essay “Redefining the Art of Poetry” in the Cambridge History of African American Literature is one of our required readings.
Tracie Morris is Professor of Humanities and Media Studies and Coordinator of Performance and Performance Studies at Pratt Institute. She received her B.A. and an M.F.A. in Poetry from Hunter College, as well as her M.A. and Ph.D. in Performance Studies at New York University. Morris also trained in British Acting Technique at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England. She is an acclaimed artist and poet and has published many of her works. She is a poet, performer and scholar. Her installations have been presented at the Whitney Biennial, Ronald Feldman Gallery, the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning and the New Museum. She is developing two audio projects:The Tracie Morris Band and sharpmorris, a collaboration with composer Elliott Sharp. Dr. Morris’ research interests include poetry and performance, poetics and theory, critical theory, and contemporary African American poetry. She most recently published Rhyme Scheme (Zasterle Press) and is featured in the newly released recording by Elliott Sharp's band Terraplane, Sky Road Songs.
Aldon Nielsen is the Kelley Professor of American Literature at Pennsylvania State University. He earned his B.A. in English from Federal City College (now the University of the District of Columbia) and his M.A. and Ph.D. in American Literature from George Washington University. He has held teaching positions at Howard, San Jose State University, the University of California, and Loyola Marymount University. Nielsen is an acclaimed scholar of 20th century poetry and a published poet. Awards for his work include the Larry Neal Award for poetry; two Gertrude Stein Awards for innovation; the SAMLA Studies Prize, a Myers Citation, and the Kayden Award for best book in the humanities, for Reading Race; Josephine Miles Award, for Integral Music: Languages of African American Innovation and the American Book Award for Don't Deny My Name: Words and Music and the Black Intellectual Tradition. Three of his books, including Black Chant: Languages of African-American Postmodernism are part of the institute’s reading list.
Nicole Hodges Persley
Nicole Hodges Persley is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of Kansas. Her research explores the impact of racial and ethnic identity on performance practices in American and European popular culture. Dr. Hodges Persley completed her Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Her current book project entitled Sampling and Remixing Blackness in Hip Hop Theater and Performance investigates the influence of American articulations of blackness on the performance practices of non- African American Hip Hop artists in theater, conceptual art and dance working in the United States and England. Dr. Hodges Persley is affiliated faculty in American Studies and African and African American Studies at KU. She has published work on Hip-Hop Theater, Jay-Z, Suzan-Lori Parks and Tyler Perry with forthcoming work on Nikki S. Lee, Fredi Washington and Jean Genet.
Eugene B. Redmond
Eugene B. Redmond was named Poet Laureate of East St. Louis (Illinois) in 1976, the year Doubleday Publishing Co. released his best selling book, Drumvoices: The Mission of Afro-American Poetry. Earlier, he spent two years (1967-69) as Teacher-Counselor and Poet-in-Residence at Southern Illinois University’s Experiment in Higher Education (ESL) where he taught with Katherine Dunham. (In 2006 he coordinated the International Memorial Celebration for Miss Dunham.) From 1970-85, he was Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at California State University-Sacramento. During that time he won an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, an Outstanding Faculty Research Award, a Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, and served as a visiting professor at universities in the U.S., Africa, and Europe. In 1986, a year after he returned home to East St. Louis, local authors created the Eugene B. Redmond Writers Club in his honor. Author/editor of 25 volumes of poetry, collections of diverse writings, plays for stage and TV, and posthumously published works of Henry Dumas, Redmond read a poem at Maya Angelou’s 70th birthday gala (1998) hosted by Oprah Winfrey. (In April of 2008, his photo exhibit, “Eighty Moods of Maya,” was featured at Angelou’s 80th birthday party in Palm Beach, Florida.) The year 2008 also capped a long line of awards and accolades when he received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from SIUE. Additionally, Redmond has won an American Book Award (for The Eye in the Ceiling), the Sterling Brown Award from ALA’s African American Literature and Culture Association, a Staying the Course Award from ETA of Chicago and a the St. Louis American Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Brian Rosenblum is Associate Librarian for Digital Scholarship at the University of Kansas Libraries, where he has administrative, production and outreach responsibilities in support of a variety of digital initiatives and publishing services. Prior to joining KU Libraries’ digital initiatives program in 2005 he worked at the Scholarly Publishing Office at the University Library, University of Michigan, where he helped develop electronic journals and digital scholarly projects.
Evie Shockley is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. She earned a B.A. in English from Northwestern University, a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Duke University. A poet and a scholar, Shockley is the author of four collections of poetry, including a half-red sea (2006) and the new black (2011), and a critical monograph, Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (2011). Her writing also appears in numerous journals and anthologies. Her honors include fellowships from ACLS and the Schomburg Center for Research in African Culture; writing residencies from Hedgebrook, MacDowell, and the Millay Colony; and the 2012 Holmes National Poetry Prize. Her current research concerns representations of "blackness" at the intersection of text and visuality in contemporary narratives of slavery.
J. Edgar Tidwell
John Edgar Tidwell is Professor of English at the University of Kansas. All of his degrees are in English: a B.A. from Washburn University, an M.A. from Creighton University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Tidwell has written widely about African American and American literatures. His scholarship has been crucial to the recovery of poet-journalist Frank Marshall Davis: Livin’ the Blues: Memoirs of a Black Journalist and Poet, Black Moods: Collected Poems, and Writings of Frank Marshall Davis: A Voice of the Black Press. He awaits the Fall 2013 appearance of his seventh book, My Dear Boy: Carrie Hughes’s Letters to Langston Hughes, 1926-1938, with Carmaletta M. Williams. A former Langston Hughes Visiting Professor at KU, he also serves the Kansas Humanities Council as lecturer in its Speakers’ Bureau and a discussant in its Talk About Literature in Kansas (TALK) program. Professor Tidwell is currently at work on a biography of poet Sterling A. Brown, tentatively titled Oh, Didn't He Ramble: A Life of Sterling A. Brown.
Beth M. Whittaker
Beth Whittaker is the head of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas. She received a B.A. in History and French and an M.A. in History from the University of Kansas, as well as a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin. Before becoming Head of the Spencer Research Library at KU, she was the Head of Special Collections Cataloging at the Ohio State University and a Special Collections Cataloger at Texas A&M University. She is the editor of RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts and Cultural Heritage and is active in the rare books and manuscripts section of the Association of College and Research Libraries.
Carmaletta M. Williams is Professor of English and African American Studies at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. She earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas and the Ph. D. in English from the University of Kansas. She has won a number of distinguished teaching awards including the Burlington Northern-Sante Fe Faculty Achievement Award; five Distinguished Service Awards from JCCC; the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Kansas Professor of the Year; and the League for Innovation’s Innovation of the Year award for her videotape entitled, “Sankofa: My Journey Home” about her Fulbright-Hays Award study in Ghana, West Africa. Williams established a faculty exchange between L’Ecole Nationale de Poste et Telecommunications in Guinea, West Africa and JCCC. She also established the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at JCCC. Her scholarly publications include, Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me: Langston Hughes in the Classroom for the National Council of Teachers of English.