Contact Information

University Distinguished Professor
Department of English, University of Kansas
1445 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045


PhD, Cornell University, in English, Dissertation, “Aesthetic and Ideological Radicalism in the 1930’s: The Fiction of Richard Wright and Langston Hughes.” Dissertation director: J. Saunders Redding. Areas of Specialization: African American Literature, African and Caribbean Literature, 19th Century American Literature and Culture

MPS, Cornell University: Africana Studies. Thesis: “Blackness, Womanness and Art: Towards a Theory of Black Feminism.” Thesis director: Roseanne Pope Bell

MA, Northwestern University: English. Thesis: “The Complete Works of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: An Introduction and Analysis” Thesis director: Margaret Walker

BA, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: English and Journalism

  • Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone (research semester)
  • Summer Institutes: University of Iowa (Charles Davis, Richard Corrigan); University of Missouri, Kansas City (Robert Farnsworth)

Employment History

Faculty Appointments

  • 2012-pres — University Distinguished Professor, Department of English, University of Kansas
  • 1999-2011 — Professor of English, University of Kansas
  • 1998-1999 — Langston Hughes Visiting Professor, English Department, University of Kansas
  • 1990-1998 — Associate/Full Professor of English & African­-American Studies, Northeastern University. Promoted 1994
  • 1989-1990 — Visiting Associate Professor of African American Studies, Harvard University
  • 1983-1989 — Assistant and Associate Professor of English, University of Mississippi. Promoted 1988
  • 1980-1983 — Lecturer/Assistant Professor of English, Chicago State University

Administrative Positions

Research Record

Research Publications and Creative Work

Major Books

  • 2014 — The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker. Oxford UP
  • 2013 — Margaret Walker’s South. University Press of Mississippi
  • 2011 — The Cambridge History of African American Literature. Cambridge UP
  • 2004 — Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel. Cambridge UP
  • 2002 — Conversations with Margaret Walker . University Press of Mississippi
  • 2001 — Fields Watered with Blood: Critical Essays on Margaret Walker. University of Georgia
  • 1998 — Teaching African American Literature: Theory and Practice. Routledge
  • 1997 — On Being Female, Black and Free: Collected Writings of Margaret Walker . University of Tennessee
  • 1995 — Conversations with Ralph Ellison. University Press of Mississippi
  • 1990 — How I Wrote JUBILEE & Other Essays on Life & Literature by Margaret Walker. Feminist Press
  • 1988 — The Complete Poems of Frances E.W. Harper: An Annotated Critical History. Oxford UP

Exhibitions, Curatorial

  • 1990 — Exhibit Curator, “African American Holdings in the American Antiquarian Society” and Exhibit Catalog, Afro-American Authorship in the Collections of the American Antiquarian Society. Worcester, MA. February

Book Chapters, Introductions

  • 2012 — “‘Black is Gold’: African American Literature and New Literacies,” The Living Canon: Contemporary Theory and Pedagogy in African American Literature. Eds. Lovalerie King and Shirley Moody. Indiana UP. (in press)
  • 2009 — “A Blessed Life,” Shaping Memories: The Lives and Times of Women, Ed. Joanne Gabbin. University Press of Mississippi. 129-137.
  • 2008 — “Negotiating Memory: Nationalism, Globalism and the New World Novel,” Transcultural Visions of Identities in Images and Texts, Ed. Wilfried Raussert. Universitatsverlag: Heidelberg, Germany. 281-308.
  • 2001 — “Margaret Walker: The Most Famous Person Nobody Knows,” Fields Watered With Blood: Critical Essays on Margaret Walker. Ed. Maryemma Graham. University of Georgia. 1-8.
  • 2001 — “‘I Want to Write, I Want to Write the Songs of My People,’” Fields Watered with Blood: Critical Essays on Margaret Walker. Ed. Maryemma Graham. University of Georgia. 11-27.
  • 1993 — “Censorship and Richard Wright’s Black Boy,” Censored Books: Critical Viewpoints. Ed. Nicholas J. Karolides, Lee Burress, and John M. Kean. Scarecrow (with Jerry W. Ward, Jr.). 109-116
  • 1993 — “Langston Hughes: The Practice of a Social Art,” Critical Perspectives Past and Present. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and K. A. Appiah. Amistad. 213-236
  • 1993 — “Introduction,” The Outsider. HarperCollins (Haper Perennial edition). xi-xxix
  • 1986 — “Introduction,” Mississippi Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth. Vol. II (Nonfiction). Ed. Dorothy Abbott. University Press of Mississippi. xii-xxx.


  • 2002 — “Langston Hughes: The Beat Goes on,” Crisis (January/February): 36-39. Invited
  • 2000 — “The Final Clenching: An Introduction to Margaret Walker,” Meridian 5 (Spring): 94-117. Peer-Reviewed
  • 1999 — “Margaret Walker: Fully a Woman, Fully a Poet,” The Black Scholar 29(2-3): 37-46. Peer-Reviewed
  • 1996 — “Healer in the Village: Toni Morrison,” Humanities 17:1 (March/April): 28-31. Invited
  • 1993 — “Introduction,” The Outsider. HarperCollins (Harper Perennial edition) xi-xxix
  • 1990 — “Bearing Witness in Black Chicago: A View of Selected Fiction by Richard Wright, Frank London Brown, and Ronald Fair,” CLA Journal 33:3 (March): 280-97. Peer-Reviewed
  • 1986 — “Introduction,” Mississippi Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth. Vol. II (Nonfiction). Ed. Dorothy Abbott. University Press of Mississippi. xii-xxx
  • 1990 — “The Origins of Afro-American Fiction,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 100: 231-49. Peer Reviewed
  • 1988 — “The Afro-American Novel Project,” Journal of Literary Research 13(1): 21-31. Peer-Reviewed
  • 1986 — Callaloo 9:3 (Summer)–special issue on Richard Wright. Edited with Introduction. Johns Hopkins Journals Group. Peer-Reviewed
  • 1980 — “The Shaping of a Cause: American Romanticism and the Black Writer,” CLA Journal 24:1 (September): 16-25. Peer-Reviewed
  • 1975 — “Frank Yerby, King of the Costume Novel,” Essence (October): 70-92 (Peer-Reviewed)
  • 1973 — “Politics in Black and White: A View of Walt Whitman’s Career as a Political Journalist,” CLA Journal 17:2 (December, 1973): 263-70. Peer-Reviewed

Minor Publications and Creative Work

  • 2011 — Faces of Haiti, Resolute in Reform, Resistance and Recovery A Report from the Haiti Research Initiative, with Kiran Jayaram, Brian Rosenblum, & C.B. Claiborne.
  • 2010 — “Margaret Walker,” The Chicago Renaissance, Dictionary of Literary Biography, Ed. Steven C. Tracy. University of Illinois. Invited
  • 2009 — “Lineage: A Margaret Walker Song Cycle,” a musical performance/adaptation of Margaret Walker’s poetry volume For My People by composer Randy Klein. KU Hall Center for the Humanities. A mixed media performance, consisting of music, vocals, visuals, and dialogue
  • 2009 — An Interview with Edward P. Jones, African American Review Spring 33 (3/4 Fall):421-438.
  • 2006 — Review. Edward P. Jones, All Aunt Hagar’s Children, African American Review 40:3 (Winter):10-12.
  • 2003 — “Ralph Ellison 1913-1994: A Brief Biography,” The Oxford Historical Guide to Ralph Ellison. Ed. Steven C. Tracy. Oxford UP (with Jeffery D. Mack). 19-55. Invited.
  • 2000 — KU Poets (From English 570; privately published)
  • 1997 — “The African American Novel,” Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Eds. William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, Trudier Harris. Oxford UP: 541-548. Invited.
  • 1996 — Review. Frances Smith Foster, ed. Minnie’s Sacrifice; Sowing and Reaping: Trial and Triumph: Three Undiscovered Novels by Frances E. W. Harper. African American Review 30:2 (Summer): 302-04
  • 1994 — Review. Francis Foster. Written by Herself: Literary Production by African American Women, 1746-1892; Frances Smith Foster, ed. Minnie’s Sacrifice; Sowing and Reaping: Trial and Triumph: Three Undiscovered Novels by Frances E.W. Harper. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 14:2 (Fall): 384-87
  • 1994 — “Margaret Walker,” Heath Anthology of American Literature, rev. ed., Ed. Paul Lauter, et al. D.C Heath. Invited.
  • 1994 — “Margaret Walker (1915) Writer,” Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History. Ed. Jack Salzman and Robert O’Meally. Macmillan. Invited.
  • 1993 — “The Fusion of Ideas: An Interview with Margaret Walker,” African American Review 27:2 (Summer): 279-86
  • 1991 — Review. Elliot Butler-Evans. Race. Gender and Desire: Narrative Strategies in the Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara,Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Studies in American Fiction 19:1 (Spring): 20-­22. Invited
  • 1990 — Review Essay: “Historicizing the Black Experience: or, Telling One’s Own Story.” August Meier and Eliot Rudwick. Black History and the Historical Profession 1915-1980; Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Figures in Black: Words Signs and the “Racial” Self; Houston A. Baker, Jr. Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance; Jean Fagan Yellin, ed. Harriet A. Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: Written by Herself; and Melvin Dixon. Ride Out the Wilderness: Geography and Identity in Afro-American Literature. College English 52:2 (February): 194-202. Invited
  • 1989 — Introduction to Afro-American Studies: A Peoples College Primer. Peoples College Press, 1989 (with Abdul Alkalimat and Ronald Bailey)
  • 1988 — Review. Valerie Smith. Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative, Legacy 5:1 (Spring): 59-50. Invited
  • 1984-1988 The Afro-American Novel: A Study Guide. Annual publication. University of Mississippi.
  • 1986 — Mississippi Mindscape: Rituals. Mississippi Humanities Committee (with Joanne V. Hawks)
  • 1986 — “Frances Ellen Watkins Harper,” Dictionary of Literary Biography: Afro-American Writers from the Before the Harlem Renaissance. Ed. Trudier Harris. Gale Research. 164-173. Invited.
  • 1985 — Review. Nellie McKay. Jean Toomer Artist, Black American Literature Forum 19:2 (Summer):91-93
  • 1984 — Student Writers Handbook. University of Mississippi, 1984
  • 1984 — “Charles Johnson,” Dictionary of Literary Biography: Afro-American Novelists Since 1955. Ed. Thadious Davis and Trudier Harris. Gale Research. 124-127.
  • 1983 — Review. Alice Walker. The Color Purple, Freedomways 23(4): 16-18
  • 1982 — “Frank Yerby, King of the Costume Novel,” Excerpt Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Publishing. 491. Invited

Digital Publications

  • 2010 — Advisory Editor, Oxford Bibliography Online. Invited.
  • 2008 — “Harlem Renaissance,” Digital Schomburg. Invited.
  • 2008 — “Toni Morrison and the New World Novel,” 2008. []. Invited.
  • 1999 — Library of Black America, Encarta Africana 2000, Microsoft Corporation (75 novels from the Project on the History of Black Writing). Invited.

Works in Progress

  • Au delà du visible ordinaire / Beyond the ordinary visible (Essays on Toni Morrison) Eds. Maryemma Graham and Andree-Ann Kekeh. Press of the University of Paris, Saint Denis. Expected, 2014.
  • Editor, Margaret Walker Papers: A Digital Archive, 2008-2010. (Funded by Ford Foundation)

Scholarly Presentations, Academic and Public Lectures

  • 2012 — “Teaching Back to the Future: Making Connections that Matter in the 21st Century,” Tougaloo College Convocation, August
  • 2012 — Resident Faculty, gave 3 lectures for “Contemporary African American Literature” NEH Summer Institute, Penn State University, July
  • 2012 — “The Post– Gaze: New Domains for Literary and Critical Studies,” Robert Young Memorial Lecture, University of Alabama, January
  • 2011 — “New Digital Directions: The HBW Model,” MLA, Seattle, January
  • 2010 — “A Canon of Her Own: Nikki Giovanni in the Making,” Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Conference, Chicago State U. Keynote address, April
  • 2009 — “Return to the Source: Reading, Writing and the new NBA [New Black Aesthetic],” Pennsylvania State University. Keynote address, October
  • 2009 — “Teaching Richard Wright in the 21st Century,” University of Utah. Keynote address, March
  • 2008 — Richard Wright Roundtable, MLA, San Francisco. Annual Conference, paper, December.
  • 2008 — “Making the Wright Connection: A Centennial Journey,” Dallas African American Museum, TX. Keynote address, November
  • 2008 — “HBCU Digitization Initiative,” Association for the Study of AA Life and History, Birmingham, AL Annual Conference, paper, October
  • 2008 — “Richard Wright at 100,” Fall for the Book Annual Book Festival, George Mason University. Presentation, September
  • 2008 — “Transnationalism in Transition,” (IABE) Academy for Global Studies, South Stockholm University, Sweden. Conference paper, June
  • 2008 — “Toni Morrison: Cultural Memory and the New World Novel,” Bielefeld University, Germany. Visiting Scholar Seminar, June
  • 2008 — “Richard Wright and the Culture of Auto/Biography,” American University of Paris, France. Conference paper, June
  • 2008 — “Richard Wright and the Culture of Auto/Biography, Hiroshima Jogakuin University, Japan. Visiting Scholar Seminar, June
  • 2008 — “Richard Wright: Making International Connections,” Tsuru University, Japan ( Visiting Scholar Seminar, June
  • 2008 — Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center Anniversary. Jackson State University. Keynote address, March
  • 2008 — “Richard Wright at 100: Looking Back, Looking Forward,” Schomburg Center for Research, New York Public Library [C-SPAN]. Panel organizer/presenter, March
  • 2008 — “Black Women and the Black Aesthetic,” 40 Years of Black Studies, Jackson State University. Keynote address, March
  • 2008 — “Margaret Walker and Richard Wright: An Extraordinary Friendship,” Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration , MS. Keynote address, February.
  • 2008 — “African American Fiction from Richard Wright to Edward Jones,” Howard University, Heart’s Day. Panel chair/organizer, 2/08
  • 2007 — “Margaret Walker’s Journals as Spiritual Autobiography,” KU-Hall Center Fellowship Lecture, October.
  • 2007 — “The Journal as Literature: A Case Study of the Journals of Margaret Walker,” University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Institute for African American Research Lecture, February
  • 2006 — “Writing Lives After Harriet Jacobs,” Harriet Jacobs Symposium: Legacies, Pace University. Conference paper, October
  • 2006 — “Autobiography as Spiritual Mediation: The Journals of Margaret Walker,” International Autobiography Association, Mainz, Germany. Conference paper, July.
  • 2006 — “The Poetry of the Civil Rights Movement,” College Language Association, Birmingham, AL. Annual Conference, paper, April.
  • 2006 — “Exploring the Tradition of Black Women’s Poetry,” North Carolina Central University. Mason Sekora Endowed Lecture, April.
  • 2005 — “Knowing Langston: The Global Dimension of Friendship and Art,” MLA, San Francisco Annual Conference, paper, December.
  • 2005 — “Toni Morrison and the New World Novel, “University of Georgia. Eidson Endowed Lecture, March.
  • 2005 — “Toni Morrison and the New World Novel,” University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Invited lecture, February
  • 2005 — “The Long Journey: The African American Novel and History,” at Tubingen, Stuttgart, and Nurnberg, Germany. United States Information Service. Invited lectures, February.
  • 2004 — “Emergent Black Nationalism: The Example of Sutton E. Griggs and the Orion Publishing Company, Nashville, 1908-1911,”CLA, Nashville. Annual Conference, paper, April
  • 2004 — “How Black Writers Write: A Workshop for Teachers,” Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, MS. Invitational Workshop, February.
  • 2004 — “Langston Hughes and New World Poetry,” University of Florida, Gainesville. Invited lecture, February
  • 2003 — “Growing out of Shadow: The Emergence of Margaret Walker,” University of Missouri, Columbia. Keynote address, November.
  • 2003 — “Papa’s Child: The Early Years of Margaret Walker,” University of Missouri, Kansas City. Invited lecture, October.
  • 2002 — “Visible Ellison: Representing Blackness in Theory and Practice,” CLA, Memphis. Annual Conference, paper, April
  • 2001 — “Crafting a Vision: The Early Years of Margaret Walker,” CLA New Orleans. Annual Conference, paper, April.
  • 2001 — “A Writing Life in Mississippi: Margaret Walker,” Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, MS. Conference paper, February
  • 1999 — “Creating a Community of Memory: Margaret Walker’s Jubilee,” American Literature Association, Baltimore. Annual Conference, paper, May.
  • 1998 — “Going to Chicago: From Child to Poet” (chapter from Walker biography), Schomburg Center for Research, New York Public Library. Fellowship lecture, May.
  • 1998 — “‘I Want to Write, I Want to Write the Songs of My People’: Voice and Vision in the Poetry of Margaret Walker,” George Moses Horton Conference, North Carolina Literary Festival, Chapel Hill. Conference paper, April.
  • 1998 — “Touching the Sun, Again: Contemporary African American Women Writers,” University of Toledo. Invited lecture, February
  • 1997 — “Margaret Walker: Poet/Humanist,” Annual Black Poetry Festival, University of Missouri, Columbia. Keynote address, October
  • 1996 — “Richard Wright’s and Margaret Walker’s Mississippi,” Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, MS. Annual Conference paper, June.
  • 1996 — “The Political Thought of Richard Wright: The U.S. Years,” Southern Intellectual History Circle, Jesus College, Cambridge University, England. Invited Keynote address, May.
  • 1993 — “The Literature of the Great Migration,” Harvard University, Du Bois Institute Fellowship lecture, January
  • 1993 — “Black Writers in Florida and the South: A Reconsideration,” CLA, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Annual Conference panel/paper, April
  • 1993 — “Revisiting the South in African American Literature, Southern Intellectual History Circle, University of Mississippi, Oxford. Annual Conference paper, February
  • 1992 — “Reconceptualizing Richard Wright,” American Literature Association, San Diego. Biennial Conference paper, May
  • 1992 — “If I’m Lyin’, I’m Flyin’: Fictional Representation in the Fiction of Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright,” Harvard University, Du Bois Institute Colloquium lecture, April
  • 1992 — “The World as Seen from the Margins: Rethinking the Content and Context of African American Discourse,” Brown University. Whetmore Endowed lecture, April
  • 1992 — “Creating Canons in African American Literature: The Example of Tennessee,” with Nikki Giovanni, CLA, Knoxville. Annual Conference panel/paper, April
  • 1992 — “Voices of Absence: Expatriation as a Redefinition of Community,” The Sorbonne, Paris, France. 2/92
  • 1992 — “Race, Revision, and Reaction: The Rise of the New Conservatism in U.S. Higher Education,” American Studies Association, Baltimore. Annual Conference paper, November.
  • 1991 — “A Hundred Years of Black Women’s Writing in South Carolina,” CLA, Columbia, SC. Annual Conference panel/paper, April
  • 1990 — “The (W)right Way: Art and Ideology in Wright’s Prose,” American Literature Association, Long Beach, Biennial conference paper, May
  • 1990 — “Self and Society in African American Autobiography,” Conference on Southern Autobiography, University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff . Invited paper, April
  • 1990 — “Literary Archaeology and the Afro-American Novel,” Harvard University, Du Bois Institute. Colloquium lecture, March
  • 1989 — “Women and the Humanities: Rethinking the past, Reshaping the Future,” Spelman College, Atlanta. Founder’s Day Symposium lecture, October
  • 1988 — “Fictionalizing History or Historicizing Fiction: A Case Study of Jubilee,” MLA, New Orleans. Annual Conference paper, December
  • 1988 — “Richard Wright and Intellectual History,” Gorky Institute for World Literature, Moscow, Russia. Invited lecture, July

Minor Presentations

  • 2012 — New Faculty Workshop on the Public Humanities, Hall Center for the Humanities. April.
  • 2008-2010 — “Language Hughes in Lawrence,” Langston Hughes Creative Writing Award Presentation. Lawrence Art Center. Annual event, February.
  • 2008 — Respondent: “Difficult Dialogues: Race, Education and American Politics,” KU Hall Center for the Humanities
  • 2005-2008 — “Black History in the Making,” annual lectures in Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, February
  • 2003 — Panelist, “The Legacy of Malcolm X,” with Amiri Baraka, Brookline Adult and Community Education Program, Boston. Invited talk, February
  • 1995 — “Africa and the American South in the Black Imagination,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Invited talk, March
  • 1994 — “The Chicago Renaissance,” DuSable Museum, Chicago. Invited talk, February
  • 1990-1993 — Various invited lectures in Boston Public Schools
  • 1992 — “Black Writing in Boston,” Old South Church, Boston. Invited talk, February

Grants and Other Funded Projects

National Endowment for the Humanities: Refereed

  • 2012 — “Don’t Deny My Voice: Reading and Teaching African American Poetries,” $189,000
  • 2010 — “Language Matters IV: Reading and Teaching Toni Morrison in Translation” $25,000
  • 2009 — “Making the Wright Connection: Teaching Black Boy, Native Son, and Uncle Tom’s Children $200,000 (digital and onsite project)
  • 2004 — “Language Matters II: Reading and Teaching Toni Morrison, The Cardozo Project Model” $75,000
  • 2003 — “Speaking of Rivers: Taking Poetry to the People” (implementation) $234,000
  • 2002 — “Language Matters I: Reading and Teaching Toni Morrison” $25,000
  • 2001 — “Speaking of Rivers: Taking Poetry to the People” (planning) $40,500
  • 1996 — “The Middle Passage: The Making of the Atlantic World” $221,000
  • 1995 — “The Middle Passage and Beyond” $25,000 (ASAALH/ Regional Institute)
  • 1994 — “From Phillis Wheatley to Toni Morrison: Developing Mentor Teachers for African American Literature II” $215,000
  • 1993 — “From Phillis Wheatley to Toni Morrison: Developing Mentor Teachers for African American Literature I” — $235,000
  • 1992 — “The Great Migration, 1900-1939” (with Harvard University School of Education) $250, 000
  • 1989 — “The Afro-American Novel Project: Building a Database for African American Literature” $350,000
  • 1985 — “Mississippi’s Native Son: International Symposium on Richard Wright” $50,000

Foundation Grants: Refereed

  • 2003 — Ford Foundation, “The Borders of Race: A Research/Teaching Project $300,000 (Hall Center)
  • 1999 — Microsoft Corporation, $15,000: Encarta Africana, Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • 1996 — Lemuelson Foundation: CD-Rom Prototype $50,000
  • 1991 — Ruth Batson Educational Foundation $10,000
  • 1987 — Ford Foundation: The Afro-American Novel Project $50,000
  • 1982 — Cornell University Travel Grant, African Literature, Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone, $5,000.

State/Regional Grants: Refereed

  • 2002 — Kansas Humanities Council: “Langston Hughes February Festival” $5800
  • 2001 — Kansas Humanities Council: “Reading and Remembering Langston Hughes” $15,000
  • 1993 — Massachusetts Humanities Council:”African American Studies Teacher Development” $15,000
  • 1993 — Massachusetts Humanities Foundation: “A Reading by Charles Johnson” $5000
  • 1985 — Mississippi Arts Commission: “Mississippi’s Native Son: Richard Wright Symposium” $10,000
  • 1985 — Mississippi Committee for Humanities:”Mississippi’s Native Son:RWright Symposium $20,000
  • 1985 — Southern Education Fund: Richard Wright Symposium $25,000

Internal Funding: Refereed

  • 2012 — General Research Fund, “Margaret Walker’s South,” $7700
  • 2007 — Hall Center Faculty Fellowship, University of Kansas for “The House Where My Soul Lives”
  • 2006 — General Research Fund, “Stolen Legacy: Writings by Free Blacks in Early America,” $8,200
  • 2002 — Hall Center Travel Grant, Vivian Harsch Collection and Chicago Historical Society $4500
  • 1999-2009 — Hall Center for the Humanities $10,000 annually for Oral History Workshop

Honors and Awards

Research Awards

  • 2013 — Fellow in America & Gender Studies, Bielefeld University, Germany
  • 2012 — University Distinguished Professorship, University of Kansas
  • 2010 — International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent Lifetime Achievement, CSU
  • 2009 — Senior Research Fellow, University of Texas, San Antonio
  • 2005-2007 — John Hope Franklin Fellow, National Humanities Center
  • 2005 — Stanford Humanities Center Fellowship (declined)
  • 2005 — Darwin Turner Award for Outstanding Contributions in Scholarship, American Literature Ass.
  • 2005 — American Embassy Fellow (Germany and Denmark). 5 lectures: “African American Studies and the Liberal Arts Tradition”
  • 2002 — Senior Fellowship, American Committee of Learned Societies
  • 1997 — Mellon-Schomburg Fellow, NYPL (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)
  • 1996 — Smithsonian Fellow, National Museum of American History
  • 1995 — Ford Senior Fellowship, Association for the Study of Afro-American History (Washington)
  • 1993 — Mellon Resident Fellow, Stillman College, AL. Fall
  • 1990 — W. E. B. Du Bois Fellow, Harvard University
  • 1989 — Residential Fellow, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA
  • 1981-1983 — Ford Post Doctoral Fellowship

Teaching Awards

  • 2007 — Grier Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching, University of Kansas
  • 2005 — Steeples Award for Outstanding Service to the People of Kansas
  • 2005 — Outstanding Educator, University of Kansas Torch Chapter of the Mortar Board
  • 2003 — Alice Dunbar Nelson Professor-in-Residence, Dillard University (2 weeks)
  • 2002 — Women’s Hall of Fame, University of Kansas
  • 1994 — Martin Luther King Social Justice Teaching Award, Boston City Council

Service Record

University of Kansas Service: 1999-present

English Department

  • 2010-pres — Member, Advisory Committee (also 1998-2000)
  • 2010-2011 — Member, External Review Committee
  • 2009-2010 — Member, Graduate Committee
  • 2008-2011 — Chair, Summer Institutes Committee
  • 2008-2009 — Organizer, Chair Search Committee
  • 2008 — Member, Public Relations and Alumni Affairs Committee
  • 2001-pres — Founding Member, Ad Hoc African Americanists (and Affiliates)
  • 1999-2004 — Chair, October Conference/New Literacies Conference Committee


  • 2011-pres — Co-chair, Common Book Committee
  • 2008-2010 — Mentor/Coach for Marshall and Fulbright nominees, Honors Program
  • 2008-2009 — Spencer Research Library Director Search Committee
  • 2003-pres — University Honors Program Advisor, (Rhodes, Marshall, Dean’s Scholars)
  • 2000-2002 — Co-Chair, Langston Hughes Centennial Celebration
  • 2000-2002 — Hall Center Professor Selection Committee
  • 2001-2002 — Chair, Black Faculty and Staff Council
  • 2001-2002 — Member, University Governance Council
  • 1999-pres — Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Committee
  • 1998-pres — Member, Black Faculty and Staff Council
  • 1999-2000 — Member, Director of OMA Search Committee
  • 1999-2009 — Founder/Organizer, Annual Oral History Workshop
  • 1999-2000 — Member, Hall Center Lecture Series Committee

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

  • 2008-2010 — Member, Digital Directions for Scholarship Task Force
  • 2003-2006 — Senior Faculty Advisor, “The Borders of Race,” Ford Foundation Grant
  • 2000-2001 — Member, American Studies Program Search Committee

Outside the University

Local and State

  • 2009-pres — Advisor, Brown Foundation for Education, Excellence and Research, Topeka, KS
  • 2008 — Consultant, Mississippi Humanities Council: “4 W’s: Welty, Williams, Wright, and Walker”
  • 2007 — Founding Member, Visual Voices Alliance (VIVA), Community Art Initiative, Lawrence, KS
  • 2006 — Consultant, USD 497, Lawrence, KS
  • 2003-2006 — President, Toni Morrison Society
  • 2002-2008 — Member, Women’s Oral History Project, Lawrence, KS
  • 2002 — Member, Advisory Committee, Read Across Lawrence, Lawrence Public Library, KS
  • 2002-pres — Evaluator/Presenter, Langston Hughes Creative Writing Awards, Lawrence, KS
  • 1987-1989 — Consultant, Mississippi Committee for the Humanities, “Humanities: the Quest for Meaning”
  • 1982-1983 — Member, Chicago Afro-American Family History Project
  • 1982-1985 — Judge, Chicago NAAACP Academic Olympics Program,
  • 1982-1984 — Advisor, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, Urban Studies Program
  • 1981-1983 — Organizer, The Children’s Hour Reading Program, Chicago Housing Authority
  • 1980-1982 — Volunteer Educator, Prison Education Program, Cook County Jail, Chicago
  • 1981-1984 — Advisor, University of Illinois, “Black Studies Curriculum Development Project,” FIPSE Grant
  • 1981-1982 — Advisor, Illinois Board of Higher Education, “A Survey of Afro-American Studies in Illinois”
  • 1980-1981 — Advisor, University of Illinois, “Developing Humanities Based Model Courses for a Core Curriculum in Afro-American Research,” NEH Grant
  • 1980-1981 — Advisor, Chicago Center for Afro-American Studies and Research, “Chicago’s Black History in the Making: Views from the Inside,” Illinois Humanities Council Grant
  • 1979-1982 — Founding Member, Timbuktu Bookstore Collective, Chicago


  • 2012 — Moorland Spingarn Advisory Committee, Howard University
  • 2010 — Advisory Committee, Howard University, Department of English and Humanities, “New Literary Histories: Words, Works, Archives
  • 2009-pres — Advisor, College of Education and Human Development, U of Texas, San Antonio
  • 2009 — Consulting Editor, Black Literature Criticism: Classics and Emerging Authors, Thompson
  • 2007-2009 — Consultant, Film Documentary: The Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story. Spark Media
  • 2006-pres — Evaluator, Mentor, National Research Council, Ford, Mellon ,Woodrow Wilson Foundations
  • 2005-pres — Evaluator, National Humanities Center
  • 2005 — Chair, 4th TMS Biennial Conference, “Toni Morrison and Sites of Memory,” Cincinnati, July
  • 2005-2010 — Consultant/Presenter, Schomburg-Mellon Mays Summer Institute, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library
  • 2003 — Co-Chair, 3rd TMS Biennial Conference, “Toni Morrison and the Politics of Learning, Howard University. June
  • 2003-2005 — Peer Reviewer, National Endowment for the Humanities (also 1995-1998)
  • 1998-pres — National Advisory Board/Senior Consultant, Margaret Walker Archives, Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center, Jackson State University, Mississippi (Ford and NEH Grants)
  • 1997 — Consultant, Film Documentary: For My People: The Life & Writing of Margaret Walker. Juneteenth Productions, Judith McCray writer/director
  • 1995 — Consultant, Film Documentary: Native Son. Cronkite Ward Productions
  • 1993 — Consultant, Film Documentary: Black Boy. Mississippi Educational Television, Madison Davis Lacy writer/director
  • 1993 — Panelist, Black History Teleconference, South Carolina ETV. February
  • 1990-1998 — Convener, Richard Wright Circle (with Jerry W. Ward, Jr.) and Editor, RW Circle Newsletter (also 2010-present)
  • 1992-pres — Chair, Black Studies Committee, College Language Association (elected)
  • 1992 — Consultant, Central Connecticut State University
  • 1990 — Director, “Doing the (W)right Thing: A Fiftieth Anniver­sary Celebration of Native Son,”Northeastern University, Boston. May
  • 1989 — Consultant, Film Documentary: Margaret Walker at 74. WGBH, Boston
  • 1989-1993 — Member, Executive Council, American Studies Association
  • 1985 — Director, “Mississippi’s Native Son: An International Symposium on Richard Wright,” University of Mississippi. November
  • 1985-pres — Peer Reviewer for: MELUS, Twentieth Century Literature, Johns Hopkins U P, Wayne State U P, Northeastern U P, University of Tennessee, PMLA, American Quarterly, Cambridge U P, Callaloo, African American Review, College English, Journal of American Studies
  • 1989-1990 — Compiler, Annual Bibliography of Afro-American Literature, Callaloo, 1989-1990 (with Dolan Hubbard)
  • 1980-pres — Professional Association and Organizational Memberships: Academy of American Poets, American Antiquarian Society, American Literature and Culture Society, American Studies Association, American Literature Association, College Language Association, International Auto/Biography Association, Langston Hughes Society, Modern Language Association, National Council Teachers of English, National Council for Black Studies, Richard Wright Circle, Society for the Study of Southern Literature, Southern Conference on Afro-American Studies, Zora Neale Hurston Society, John Edgar Wideman Society, and Alice Childress Society, Wintergreen Women Writers’ Collective


  • 2012-2013 — Appointed MLA Position, Editorial Advisory Board, Profession
  • 2010-2015 — Elected MLA Position, Division of Black American Literature and Culture, Modern Language Association
  • 2008-2010 — Co-chair, Sixth Biennial Conference, “Toni Morrison and Circuits of the Imagination, Paris, France. November
  • 2006-2008 — Chair, Richard Wright International Centennial Committee
  • 2003-2006 — President, Toni Morrison Society
  • 1989-1992 — Elected MLA Positions: Member, Committee for the Literatures and Languages of America of the Modern Language Association, 1989-1992; Member, PMLA Bibliography Committee, 1992-1994; Chair, Black American Literature and Culture Division, 1990-1993 & Division Member, 2009-present; Delegate Assembly Member, 1988-1990