American Literature

Graduate Studies in English at Northeastern University

Northeastern’s Department of English has a superb cohort of faculty teaching American Literature, from the early period to the twenty-first century. Nicole Aljoe's work focuses on the slave narrative and issues of archival recovery in American and Caribbean literature; Sari Altschuler is an emerging leader in the health humanities and disability studies and co-organizer of the American Studies Association's Early American Matters Caucus; Hillary Chute has helped to define the field of graphic novel and comics studies; Ryan Cordell is a leading scholar in the emerging field of Digital Humanities; Theo Davis, whose work focuses on the nineteenth century, has just released a new book on aesthetics and ornamentation in the writings of Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau; Elizabeth Maddock Dillon is co-director of the Futures of American Studies Summer Institute at Dartmouth College which our students regularly attend; and Carla Kaplan, who works on the Harlem Renaissance and women’s biography, is an inaugural Public Fellow with the NEH. Diverse in methodologies and areas focus, our faculty work closely with graduate students on archival research, team projects, and focused training in literary analysis.

Our Faculty

Nicole N. Aljoe (18th- and 19th-Century Black Atlantic literature; the Slave Narrative; Postcolonial Studies; 18th-Century British Novel, Digital Humanities)
Featured Work: Nicole N. Aljoe and Ian Finseth, eds.,  Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas (Univ. of Virginia Press, 2014) [full bio]

Sari Altschuler (18th- and 19th-Century American literature; Health Humanities; Disability Studies)
Featured Work: The Medical Imagination: Literature and Health in the Early United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, February 2018) [full bio]

Hillary Chute (20th-Century and Contemporary American literature; the Graphic Novel)
Featured Work: Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form (Harvard Univ. Press, 2016) [full bio]

Ryan Cordell (19th-Century American literature; Digital Humanities)
Featured Work: Reprinting, Circulation, and the Network Author in Antebellum Newspapers” (American Literary History, August 2015 ) [full bio]

Theo Davis (19th-Century American literature; Critical Theory)
Featured Work: Ornamental Aesthetics: The Poetry of Attending in Thoreau, Dickinson, and Whitman (Oxford Univ. Press, 2016) [full bio]

Elizabeth Maddock Dillon (18th-Century American literature; Transatlantic Studies; Digital Humanities)
Featured Work: New World Drama: the Performative Commons in the Atlantic World, 1649-1849 (Duke Univ. Press, 2014) [full bio]

Carla Kaplan (20th-Century American literature; African American literature; Women’s and Gender Studies)
Featured Work: Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance (HarperCollins, 2013) [full bio]

Eunsong Kim (20th-Century American literature; 21st-Century America literature; Modern and Postmodernism; Visual Studies; Poetics; Critical Gender Studies; Asian American Literature; US Multi-Ethnic Literature; New Media Studies)
Featured Work: “Appraising Newness: Whiteness, Neoliberalism & the Building of the Archive for New Poetry” (Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, Vol. 1, Issue 2, 2017); Co-founder of contemptorary  [full bio]

Selected Recent Student Research

Benjamin Doyle, “Book History and Antebellum American Literary Studies” (supervised by Ryan Cordell)

Laura Hartmann-Villalta, “Witness to War: Photography, Anglophone Women’s Writing, and the Spanish Civil War” (directed by Carla Kaplan)

Dana Horton,“12 Years a Slave-Master: Gender, Genre, and Race in Post-Neo-Slave Narratives” (directed by Nicole N. Aljoe)

Kyle Oddis, “Tests of Original Relation : Re-Visioning “Death” in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe” (supervised by Theo Davis)

Victoria Papa, “The Invention of Survival: Time and the Transformation of Trauma in American Modernist Literature” (directed by Carla Kaplan)

Danielle Skeehan, “Creole Domesticity: Women, Commerce, and Kinship in Early Atlantic Writing” (directed by Elizabeth Maddock Dillon)

Ethan Whittet, “The Mass Production of Old New England” (directed by Elizabeth Maddock Dillon)


Selected Recent Courses
  • Literature in the Public Interest: Muckraking and American Realism, (1887-2013) – ENGL 7211: Topics in American Literature
  • Harlem Renaissance in Black & White – ENGL 7215: Topics in Twentieth-Century American Literature
  • Print and Performance in the Atlantic World – ENGL 7213 Topics in Early American Literature
  • Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller – ENGL 7214 Topics in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • The Slave Narrative – ENGL 7352 Topics in Genre

American Literature and Cultures Workshop