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Carla Kaplan

Headshot of Carla Kaplan

Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature; Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Carla Kaplan, a professor of English, African-American and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, holds the Davis Distinguished Professorship in American Literature and writes on modern, African-American, and women’s history and culture. She has published seven books, including the award-winning Miss Anne in Harlem: the White Women of the Black Renaissance (HarperCollins) and Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters (Doubleday/Anchor), both New York Times Notable Books, and writes occasionally for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Slate, and The Nation. Kaplan founded the Northeastern Humanities Center and has been a resident fellow at numerous humanities centers and institutes, including the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York City Public Library, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, and the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. Kaplan has received teaching awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and elsewhere.  She is a recently elected Fellow of the Society of American Historians, an NEH “Public Scholar,” and recently published the Norton Critical Edition of Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, a companion to Larsen’s Passing, which she also edited. Her cultural biography of Jessica Mitford is forthcoming from HarperCollins.


  • Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance (HarperCollins, 2013). In support of this project, Professor Kaplan was awarded a New York Public Library Cullman Center fellowship (2006-2007), a Guggenheim fellowship (2007-2008), and a W. E. B. DuBois Institute Research Fellowship (2007-2008).
  • Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters (2002), listed as a “Best of 2002” book by the New York Times Book Review
  • Education

    PhD, Northwestern University

  • Contact

  • Address

    401 Holmes Hall
    360 Huntington Avenue
    Boston, MA 02115

  • Office Hours

    Mondays 4:45-6:00pm
    or by appointment


Course catalog
  • Surveys major nineteenth- or twentieth-century African-American novelists, such as Francis Harper, Charles Chestnutt, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Ishmael Reed.

  • American Women Writers & Race


    Surveys the diversity of American women’s writing to ask what it means to describe writers as disparate as Phillis Wheatley, Edith Wharton, Toni Morrison, and Alison Bechdel as part of the same “tradition.” With attention to all genres of American women’s writing, introduces issues of genre and gender; literary identification; canons; the politics of recuperation; silence and masquerade; gender and sexuality; intersectionality; sexual and literary politics, compulsory heterosexuality, and more.

  • This interdisciplinary course offers debates around sex, gender, sexuality, and the body that push beyond binary models reliant on a simple “nature/culture” distinction. Focuses on dynamic and variable aspects of sexuality, sex, and gender within and across cultures, representational forms, and historical periods, analyzing the circumstances in which they undergo significant challenge or transformation. Uses particular paradigmatic “case studies” to push hard at the boundaries of sex and gender as they circulate in specific discourses of feminism, queer theory, and poststructuralism; ethnic studies; critical race theory; and cultural studies.