Cassander Lavon Smith F'09

Cassander Lavon Smith
Associate Professor
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2009
Doctoral Candidate
Early American Literature
Purdue University
Interruptions, Disruptions and a Wall of Silence: A Study of African-American Representations 1542-1760

This dissertation argues that the presence of people of African descent was integral to the formation of early American literature. Current studies of race in early American literature examine representations of people of African descent as a passive event. The representations are viewed simply as mediations, a metaphorical African presence that was created and manipulated by European/Euro-American authors attempting to reify race as fixed and visible categories of difference. This project reads the representations of people of African descent in early American literature as contested events, a series of struggles between European/Euro-American literary imaginations and African presences that existed beyond that imagination.