E. Maynard Adams Professor of English
Ph. D., UNC-Chapel Hill, 1973
M.A., UNC-Chapel Hill, 1970
My first book, The Literary Career of Charles W. Chesnutt (1980), deals with a seminal figure in the development of African American and Southern American prose fiction. To Tell a Free Story is a history of African American autobiography up to 1865, the research for which got me interested in autobiography studies. Since 1988 I've been general editor of a book series, Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography, published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Since the mid-1980's I've done a considerable amount of editing of African American and southern literature and criticism. The climax of this work has been The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (1997), The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (1997), and The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology (1997), three big collaborative projects that I have co-edited. I'm now series editor of North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920, a complete digitized library of autobiographies and biographies of North American slaves and ex-slaves, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ameritech, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I continue to study the historical linkages between white and black writers in the formation of American literature, African American literature, and southern literature.
- Author of To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography, 1760-1865 (1986)
- Co-editor of The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (1997)
- Co-editor of The Oxford Companion to African American Literature (1997)
- General Editor of The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology (1997)