Gene Andrew Jarrett


Professor and Associate Dean of the Faculty (Humanities)

AB, Princeton University
AM, PhD, Brown University

Room 515
For CV click here

I specialize in African American literary history from the eighteenth century to the present; U.S. literary history between the Civil War and World War II; race, ethnic, and cultural studies; and theories of literature, aesthetics, and intellectual historiography.  I have written two books and edited eight more that altogether examine the longstanding negotiations of African American writers with racial representation—that is, with the formal and thematic process of portraying race in progressive ways, and thus with the question of how much this literary process exists in dialectical relation to political ideology and action.  My writings have also tried to account more broadly for how American critics, cultural institutions, and commercial marketplaces have registered the aesthetics and politics of racial representation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  For my scholarly work I have been awarded in 2010 a Walter Jackson Bate Fellowship in English Literature at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and in 2014 an ACLS Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

The courses I teach at Boston University cover these topics.  Most of my courses aim to intersect African American literature with literacy, higher education, racial uplift, political activism, and law and civil rights.  In recent years I have also focused on teaching graduate courses about postbellum American literature and the rise of corporate capitalism, in concert with my teaching of the English Department’s standard American literature survey from the Civil War to World War I, addressing such issues as national identity and democratic aesthetics; the racial politics of regionalism; domesticity and the literature of gender and sexuality; literary realism and the problem of representation; and literary naturalism and the ethics of capitalist modernity.  All of this work feeds into my current scholarly project, a book about the literature, life, and times of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), the first professional African American writer born after slavery.

In addition to my activities as scholar and teacher at BU, I have served as Acting Director of African American studies from 2009 to 2010 and Chair of the Department of English from 2011 to 2014.  Most recently, I have been appointed Associate Dean of the Faculty (Humanities).

Faculty Affiliations
  • African American Studies Program
  • American and New England Studies Program
Authored Books
  • Representing the Race: A New Political History of African American Literature (New York University Press, 2011)
  • Deans and Truants: Race and Realism in African American Literature (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007)
Edited Books (Most Recent)
  • The Wiley-Blackwell Anthology of African American Literature, Volume 1: 1746 to 1920 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014)
  • The Wiley-Blackwell Anthology of African American Literature, Volume 2: 1920 to the Present (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014)
  • A Companion to African American Literature (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010; 2013 in paperback)
  • The New Negro: Readings on Race, Representation, and African American Culture (Princeton University Press, 2007); co-edited with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • African American Literature beyond Race: An Alternative Reader (New York University Press, 2006)
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar (under contract, Princeton University Press)
  • Henry James, James Baldwin, and the Cosmopolitics of African American Literature
Essays (Most Recent)
  • “What is Jim Crow?,” PMLA: A Publication of the Modern Language Association 128.2 (March 2013): 388-90
  • “The Harlem Renaissance and Its Indignant Aftermath: Rethinking Literary History and Political Action after Black Studies,” American Literary History 24.4 (Winter 2012): 775-795
  • “Loosening the Straightjacket: Rethinking Racial Representation in African American Anthologies,” Publishing Blackness: Textual Constructions of Race since 1850, eds. John K. Young and George Hutchinson (The University of Michigan Press, 2012)
  • “‘To Refute Mr. Jefferson’s Arguments Respecting Us’: Thomas Jefferson, David Walker, and the Politics of Early African American Literature,” Early American Literature 46.2 (June 2011): 291-319; selected for special issue, “New Essays on ‘Race,’ Writing, and Representation in Early American Literature.”
Honors, Awards, & Fellowships (Most Recent)
  • ACLS Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (2014)
  • Walter Jackson Bate Fellowship in English Literature, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (2010-2011)
  • Third Annual Peter Connelly Lecturer in English, Grinnell College (2009)
  • American Library Association “Best of the Best from the University Presses” for The Complete Stories of Paul Laurence Dunbar (2007)
  • Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship (2005-2006)