Recent publications


Freedom's Witness
Freedom’s Witness

Freedom’s Witness: The Civil War Correspondence of Henry McNeal Turner (West Virginia University Press, 2013). I found Turner’s newspaper columns in the African American newspaper The Christian Recorder, detailing the leadup to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the decision to deploy black troops in the Civil War, and Turner’s experiences as one of the first black chaplains in the Union Army. Serving the 1st U.S. Colored Troops, Turner witnessed several major battles, including the Siege of Petersburg (VA) and the Battle of Fort Fisher. He also served, after the war, in the Freedmen’s Colony at Roanoke, VA. Turner wrote passionately about both the present plight and potentially bright future of African Americans during this tumultuous time. Read more at the Facebook page I have created for the book, or purchase at WVU Press or (Click to Look Inside is available).

American Periodicals
American Periodicals

“The Hideous Obscure of Henry James,” in American Periodicals 20.2 (Autumn 2010). This essay was selected for a special issue on visual culture in American magazines. Here, I examine the American serialization of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw (1898), which was serialized in the popular interest magazine Collier’s just as the United States entered the Spanish-American War. I argue that the unspeakable horror experienced by the novella’s governness–and her inability to name what she sees–would have resonated with the magazine’s audience, which was simultaneously confronted with images of the U.S.S. Maine explosion and Cuban reconcentrados brought to the pages of Collier’s through the new technology of snapshot photography.

Transnationalism in American Serial Fiction
Transnationalism in American Serial Fiction

Mobility and Resistance in Antebellum African American Serialized Fiction,” in Transnationalism and American Serial Fiction, ed. Patricia Okker (Routledge 2011). This essay was also published, in slightly different form, in Callaloo in Winter 2011. In it, I analyze two early African American serialized novels, Blake: Or, the Huts of America (1859-1862), by Martin Delany; and Theresa: A Haytian Tale (author unknown, 1828). Both novels show characters traveling over land and sea in their efforts to resist slavery and oppression–in distinct contrast to the narrative form we have come to identify most strongly with nineteenth-century African American literature, the slave narrative.

Hurston Collected Plays
Hurston: Collected Plays

Zora Neale Hurston: Collected Plays, co-edited with Charlie Mitchell (Rutgers University Press, 2008). Charlie and I found some of these plays at the Library of Congress digital archive, but located others by digging through play anthologies, periodicals, and various archival collections. The book includes links to sound files at the Library of Congress with the songs sung in the plays. Loyola produced four of the short plays in 2007–they were surprisingly (to me, I guess because I knew how rough the actual scripts were!) powerful in performance. Definitely worth reading if you are a Hurston fan. You can see a preview of the book– and purchase it, of course– at


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