August, 1979 Ph.D., Purdue University, W. Lafayette, Indiana Major Field:  American/African-American Literature Dissertation: "Women on Women: The Black Woman Writer of the Harlem Renaissance--Jessie Fauset, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston"
1972-1974 M.A., Purdue University, W. Lafayette, Indiana
Major: American Literature
1968-1972 B.A., Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama
Major: English; Minor: Spanish


Leaving Pipe Shop, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1998



  • 2008-              Director, Carter G. Woodson Institute of African-American and African Studies
  • 2000-              Alice Griffin Professor of English
  • 9/91-2000       Professor, Department of English, University of Virginia
  • 9/87-9/91       Associate Professor of English
  • 1/89-5/89       Visiting Professor of English, Duke University
  • 12/84-5/87     Associate Professor, Department of English, Colby College. Tenured December, 1984
  • 9/79-12/84     Assistant Professor, Department of English, Colby College


  • African-American Literature and Culture
  • Women's Literature
  • American Literature
  • Autobiography
  • Race and Photography


Books and Editions

  • Pauline Hopkins. Of One Blood, Or the Hidden Self, edited
    And with an Introduction. Simon and Schuster, 2004.
  • Frederick Douglass.  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, edited and with an introduction. Oxford University Press, 1999.           
  • Leaving Pipe Shop:  Memories of Kin. Scribner’s, 1997 Paperback edition, W. W. Norton, 1998.
  • Period Editor, "Realism, Naturalism, Modernism, 1940-1960."
    Norton Anthology of African-African-American Literature, Henry Louis Gates and Nellie McKay, General Editors, 1996.
  • "The Changing Same":  Studies in Fiction by Black-American Women Book length study. Indiana University Press 1995.
  • Slavery and the Literary Imagination, edited with Arnold Rampersad.  Papers of the English Institute. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1988.
  • Zora Neale Hurston.  Moses, Man of the Mountain. Edited and with an Introduction. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.
  • Emma Dunham Kelley's novel, Four Girls at Cottage City (1899). Edited and with an introduction. In Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women Writers. General Editor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • Nella Larsen. Quicksand and Passing. Edited and with an introduction.  New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1986.
  • Jessie Fauset. Plum Bum. Edited and with an introduction London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985.

Essays and Review Essays

  • “’Must Have Been Some Kind of Love’: Sexualities Attachments in Faulkner.  In Annette Trepfzer and Ann Abadie, eds. Faulkner’s Sexualities. University Press of Mississippi, 2010.
  • “Criticism in Transit:  Houston Baker, Sterling Brown and ‘The South’”  American Literary History 21.4 (Winter 2009):  902-922.
  • “Recovery Missions:  Imaging the Body Ideal,” in Michael Bennett and Vanessa Dickerson, eds. Recovering the Black Female Body:  Self-Representations by African-American Women. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2001.
  • Soldier.” Review essay on June Jordan.  Women’s Review of Books, June 2001."Viewing the Remains:  Death, Spectacle and the [Black] Family" in Marianne Hirsch, ed. The Familial Gaze.  University Press of New England, 1999.
  • "Darkness Visible: Jamaica Kincaid's My Brother.  Review essay. The Women's Review of Books, 15 (January 1998).
  • “Pecs and Reps:  Muscling in on Race and the Subject of Masculinities" in Michael Uebel and Harry Stecoupoulas, ed. Race and the Subject of Masculinities. Duke University Press, 1997.
  • "R. I. P.: Memorial Wall Art - A Peaceful Disturbance, Radical America 26(1996):43-53.
  • “Transferences: Black Feminist 'Practice' in the Age of 'Theory'" in Diane Elam and Robyn Wiegman, eds. Feminism Beside Itself. Routledge, 1995
  • "How 'Free' is Free Enterprise?" Review essay. Women's of Review of Books, June 1994.“Fire and Snow" and Going Home" in Patricia Bell Scott, ed. Life Notes: Personal Writings by Contemporary Black Women. W. W. Norton, 1993.
  • "In Viaggio con Jessie Fauset." Acoma: Revista Internazionale Di Studi Nordamericani 3(Inverno 1995)
  • "Harlem Nocturne: Toni Morrison's Jazz," Review Essay. Women's Review of Books, 9 (June 1992)
  • "A New Outfit for Sojourner: Black Women in 'Theory." in Ralph Cohen, ed. Studies in Historical Change, University of Virginia Press, 1991.
  • "Regulating Midwives: Jessie Fauset and the Harlem Renaissance." In Elaine Showalter, ed. American Women Writers, New York: Charles Scribner's, 1991
  • "In the First Place:  Making Frederick Douglass & the African-American Narrative Tradition." In William Andrews, ed. Critical Essays on Frederick Douglass. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991.
  • "The West and the Rest of Us."  Hugh Honour, Image of the Black in Western Art, Vols. I and II. Virginia Quarterly Review,  67 (Spring 1991).
  • "Powers of Memory." Review essay. Women's Review of Books. February, 1991.
    "'The Changing Same: Generational Connections and Black Women Novelists." Reprinted from New Literary History, l8 Winter 1987)in Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed Reading Feminist/Reading Black (New York: New American Library, 1990). 
  • "Reading Family Matters."  In Changing Words, ed. Cheryl A. Wall.  Rutgers: Rutgers University Press, 1989."Boundaries:Or Distant Relations and Close Kin" in Afro-American Literary Study in the 1990s, ed. Houston A. Baker and Patricia Redmond. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.
  • "Interview with Susan Fraiman."  Critical Texts:  A Review of Theory and Criticism 6 (1989).
  • "The Self and the Other: Reading Toni Morrison's Sula and the Black Female Text" in Toni Morrison: Collected Essays, Ed. Nellie McKay.  Boston: G. K. Hall, 1988. Rpt. in Harold Bloom, ed. Toni Morrison: Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House, 1990.
  • "Dorothy West and the Writers of the Harlem Renaissance."  The Harlem Renaissance, ed. Victor Kramer. New York: AMS Press, 1988.
  • "The Nameless. shameful impuls”': Sexuality in Nella Larsen's Quicks and and Passing. in Joe Weixlmann and Houston A. Baker, Jr. Studies in Black American Literature, Vol. III. Penkevill Publishing, 1988.
  • “New Directions for Black Feminist Criticism," in The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature and Theory, ed. Elaine Showalter. Pantheon, 1985 Reprinted from Black American Literature Forum, 14 (1980).
  • “The Neglected Dimension of Jessie Redmon Fauset," in Conjuring: Black Women, Fiction, and Literary Tradition, ed. Marjorie Pryse and Hortense Spillers. Indiana University Press, 1985. Reprinted from Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, 5 (July 1981).
  • "The Self in Bloom:  Alice Walker's Meridian." College Language Association Journal, 24 (March 1981).
  • “Criticism in Arrest." Review essay of Black Women Writers (1950-1980): A Critical Evaluation, Ed. Mari Evans. Callaloo:  A Black South Journal of Arts and Letters (Spring 1985).
  • "God in Harlem."  Review of The Sage in Harlem: H. L. Mencken and The Black Writers of the 1920's by Charles Scruggs. 28 (Fall 1984), Centennial Review.
  • "A World in Her Eye." Review of In Search of Our Mother's Gardens by Alice Walker. In These Times. April 18, 1984.
  • "Thinking and Wrestling." Review of Black Women Writers at Work, edited, Claudia Tate. Washington Book Review, 3 (Fall 1983).
  • "Brave and Brazen Women." Review essay of Conditions Five: Black Women's Issue; Midnight Birds: Contemporary Stories of Black Women, ed. Mary Helen Washington; Black Women Novelists: The Development of a Tradition by Barbara Christian in Black American Literature Forum, 16 (Summer 1982).
  • "Neither White Nor Black." Review of Neither White Nor Black: The Mulatto Character in American Fiction" by Judith Berzon. Modern Fiction Studies 25 (Winter 1979-80).
  • Additional reviews published in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Complete listing and full citations are available upon request

Works in Progress

  • Third Edition of the Norton Anthology of African American Literature
  • The Racial Space of Feeling: Constructions of Emotion in African-America
  • The Home Stretch: A Novel

Editorial Work

General Editor:  Carter G. Woodson Series – University of Virginia Press
General Editor:  Black Women Writers Series, Beacon Press, 1985-1993.  Devoted to out- of-print works by African-American Women.
Titles Released: 
  • Anne Petry. The Street
  • Ann Petry. The Narrows
  • Ann Petry. Miss Muriel and Other Stories
  • Alice Childress. Like One of the Family
  • Gayl Jones. Corregidora and Eva's Man
  • Frances E. W. Harper. Iola Leroy
  • Charlene Polite. The Flagellants
  • Marita Bonner. Selected Writings
  • Octavia Butler. Kindred
  • Jessie Fauset. Plum Bun
  • Marita Bonner. Frye Street and Environs
Contributing Editor: D. C. Heath Anthology of American Literature


  • Keynote Address – “Toni Morrison and the Languages of Love” presented at “Toni Morrison and the Circuits of the Imagination.”   Paris France. (November 2010)
  • Keynote Address –National Science Foundation/Alliances for Graduate Education in the Professoriate (NSF-AGEP) – CUNY, the Graduate Center (May 2010)
  • Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecturer – Louisiana State University (March 2010)
  • Invited Lecture Tour in Italy, May 2008 Universities in Ferrara, Venice, Cagliari
  • Martin Luther King – Distinguished Lecture – Syracuse University – March 2009
  • “Must Have Been Some Kind of Love” Sexualities Attachments In Faulkner. Keynote Address at the Annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, University of Mississippi, July 2007
  • Invited Lecture Tour in Italy, May 2002: University of Ferrara, University of Bologna, University of Cagliari
  • “The “I” of Record:  First Person Narrative and Civil Rights History.”  Humanities Institute. State University of New York at Stony Brook.  April 2002
  • “Recovery Missions: Imaging the Body Ideal.” Keynote address Narrative Society.  Sponsored by Emory University, Atlanta, Spring, 2000
  • Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence.  Michigan State University, Spring 2000
  • “History and Memory.” Southern Historical Association.  Kentucky. Fall 2000“Envisioning Paradise.”
  • Keynote Address. Conference Princeton University, February 1999
  • "Toni Morrison and the American South."  Keynote Address at the Toni Morrison Society. Georgia State University, Atlanta, September, 1998.
  • "Photography and Mourning."  The Paumanack Lecture, Long Island University. New York, March 1998.
  • Charles W. Burch Memorial Lecture. Howard University, April 1998 (Endowed Lecture)
  • Leonora Woodman Memorial Lecture.  Purdue University, November 1997 (Endowed Lecture)
  • "Black Masculinities."  A Symposium at Princeton University. November 1997
  • "Memory and Migration in Southern Literature" University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa. October 1997
  • "Worlds of Violence and Survival" Symposium Sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, July 10, 1997.
  • Respondent to panel on "Racial Bodies" MLA December 1996
  • The Body Politic" at Duke University, November 1996
  • "Photography in Media Culture." Keynote address at The German American Studies Association, Tubingen May, 1994
  • "Violence and Mourning in African American Literature and Culture." Harvard University, October 1993
  • "Los Angeles: An Anniversary Post-Mortem." Johns Hopkins University, April 1993"Transferences:  Black Feminist 'Practice' in the Age of 'Theory." University of California, Berkeley, March 1992
  • In the First Place:  Making Frederick Douglass and the African American Narrative Tradition. Miriam Lerenbaum Distinguished Lecture, SUNY, Binghamton, 1991
  • "Hesitating Between Tenses:  The Sacred Texts of Slavery” Helen Homans Gilbert Prize Lectureship,” Harvard University, October 1988
  • Unlisted lectures at several institutions including:
    Ohio State University, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Scripps College, Brandeis, Harvard, Williams College, Lafayette
    College, Spelman, Emory, Instituto Di Letteratura Inglese E Americana-Rome, Bellagio-Italy, Writer’s Colony, Moscow, Tulane University, CUNY,
    University of Geneva, Johns Hopkins, Haverford College, Barnard, University of Rochester, Brown, Dartmouth, UCLA


  • College Language Association
  • Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History
  • Modern Language AssociationCAAR (Collegium on African-American Research) College Language Association
  • Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History
  • Modern Language AssociationCAAR (Collegium on African-American Research)


  • 2007-          Executive Board, Prose Fiction Division, Modern Language
  • 2007-          Advisory Board, Contemporary Women’s Writing
  • 2006-          Co-Chair, Gilda Lehrman Institute for the Study Of Slavery and Resistance, Yale University
  • 1999-          Fellowships Selection Committee, the Huntington Library
  • 1998-          Elected Member of the MLA Delegate Assembly (Three-year term)
  • 1998-          Advisory Board. "African Americans and the Bible."Three-year study initiated by Union Theological Seminary, sponsored by the Lilly Foundation.
  • 1996-          Advisory Reader, Woodrow Wilson International Center
  • 1995-          Editorial Board, Genders
  • 1995-98      Advisory Board of Memory, Legacy of Absence Project, United States Holocaust Museum
  • 1993-95      Editorial Board, American Literature
  • 1987-1996  Editorial Board, Norton Anthology of Afro-American Literature
  • 1986-         Editorial Board, African American Review (Formerly Black American Literature Forum
  • 1985-89     Advisory Board of PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association -- Four-year term)
  • 1989-         Editorial Board, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature
  • 1987-92     Executive Committee--Division of Afro-American Literature and Culture, PMLA
  • 1985-89     Supervisory Board, the English Institute
  • 1981-85     Member, Modern Language Association, Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession. Co-Chair, 1983-84. Coordinator, Scholarly Exchange and Mentoring Program
  • 1985          Panelist, Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College
  • 1984          Member, Radcliffe Graduate Medal Society
  • 1984-         Board of Editors, Black Periodical Fiction Project, Yale University
  • 1984-87      Advisory Committee. Sage:  A Scholarly Journal of Black Women
  • 1984-         Consultant Reader. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, PMLA, and Black American Literature Forum
  • 1983          Panelist, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fellowship for College Teachers

Tenure and Promotion Evaluations (Recent and selected)

University of Utah, Kenyon College, George Mason University, George Washington, Columbia, Wesleyan, University of California, Irvine, University of Michigan, UCLA, University of Chicago, Rutgers, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
List of Dissertations Directed Available Upon Request


  • 1987-            Advisory, Carter G. Woodson Institute
  • 1988-            Executive Board, Women's Studies Program
  • 1990             Member, Faculty Senate
  • 1990             Senate Committee on Faculty Relations
  • 1996-99        Advisory Board, University Press of Virginia
  • 1997-99        Promotion and Tenure Committee
  • 1998             Graduate Committee, Department of English
  • Provost’s Committee on Promotion and Tenure


  • 2006                Honorary Doctorate, Purdue University
  • 2001                National Endowment for the Humanities (Alternate)
  • 1998                Paumanock Lecturer.  Long Island University
  • 1998                Charles Eaton Burch Memorial Lecture, Howard University
  • 1997                Frances E. W. Harper Prize for Literary Excellence for Leaving Pipe Shop from the Harper Literary Society, Shaker Heights, Ohio.
  • 1997                Leonora Woodman Memorial Lecture, Purdue University
  • 1994                Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D. C. One-year fellowship
  • 1993                Ella Weaver Memorial Lecture, Haverford College
  • 1991                Miriam Lerenbaum Lecturer, SUNY, Binghamton
  • 1991                Chancellor's Distinguished Lecture, University of California, Irvine
  • 1989                Visiting Mellon Chair of Humanitites, Tulane University
  • 1988                Helen Homans Gilbert Prize Lectureship, Harvard University
  • 1985-86           National Research Council (Ford Foundation), Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Harvard University
  • 1983-84           Mary Ingraham Bunting Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Radcliffe College
  • 1983                Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Harvard University (Declined)
  • 1984                American Philosophical Society Research Grant
  • 1982                Reconstructing American Literature Institute Grant, Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, Yale University
  • 1981-85           Modern Language Association Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession, Co-Chair, 1983-84
  • 1980                National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar Grant, Yale University
First Name: 
Alice Griffin Professor
Computing ID: 
Office Address: 

402 Bryan Hall

Deborah McDowell

African American Literature, American