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Hurston Scholars

Institute Faculty

Institute faculty are from a wide range of humanities disciplines, creating an intellectually rich environment for generative dialogues and collaborative work for NEH Summer Scholars.


Giselle Anatol

Giselle Anatol, is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas.  Her research focuses on Caribbean Diaspora Literature, as well as African American Literature and Black speculative fiction.  She is the author of The Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampires in Literature of the Circum-Caribbean and African Diaspora.


Riché Barnes

Riché Barnes is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College.  She is President of the Association of Black Anthropologists and the author of Raising the Race: Black Career Women Redefine Marriage, Motherhood, and Community.


Darren Canady

Darren Canady is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas and an award-winning playwright. His plays, which have been produced for both domestic and international audiences, are informed by a family history of storytelling and the unique culture of African-American life in the Midwest.


Glenda R. Carpio

Glenda R. Carpio is a Professor of African and African American Studies and of English at Harvard University. She is the author of Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery and co-editor of African American Literary Studies: New Texts, New Approaches, New Challenges.


Julian Chambliss

Julian Chambliss is a Professor of English and core participant in the Critical Diversity in a Digital Age initiative at Michigan State University. He is co-author of Cities Imagined: The African Diaspora in Media and History and co-editor of Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domain.


Rhonda Collier

Rhonda Collier is a Professor of Modern Languages and Communication at Tuskegee University, where she also serves as the Director of the TU Global Office. Her work focuses on American literature, Black American literature, and composition courses with an emphasis on service-learning, and she has published in the areas of Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, African-American, and global hip hop studies. She is the author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, co-edited with Dr. Octavia Tripp.


Sylvia Fernández

Sylvia Fernández is the Public and Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow at Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas and has expertise in archival studies.  She is a co-founder of Borderlands Archives Cartography, a digital map of nineteenth and twentieth century newspapers from the U.S.-Mexico border.


Maryemma Graham

Institute Co-Director

Maryemma Graham is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at KU.  She is the founder and Director of the Project on the History of Black Writing, the author or editor of ten books, including The Cambridge History of African American Literature (with Jerry W. Ward, Jr.). She has directed ten NEH-funded Summer Institutes to date including recent institutes on Richard Wright and on twentieth century African-American poetry.


Ayesha Hardison

Institute Co-Director

Ayesha Hardison is an Associate Professor of English and of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at KU.  She is the award-winning author of Writing through Jane Crow, the editor of the multidisciplinary journal Women, Gender, and Families of Color, and co-editor of the 2020 special issue of The Langston Hughes Review focused on a 2017 conference that she co-organized to mark the 80th anniversary of Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.


Nicole Hodges Persley

Nicole Hodges Persley is an Associate Professor in the Departments of American Studies and African & African American Studies at KU. She is also the Artistic Director of KC Melting Pot Theater, Kansas City’s premier African American theater company.  She is the author of Sampling and Remixing Blackness in Hip Hop Performance and co-author of Breaking It Down: Auditioning for Artists of the Global Majority (both forthcoming).


LaMonda Horton-Stallings

LaMonda Horton-Stallings  is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Georgetown University.  As L.H. Stallings, she is the author of A Dirty South ManifestoSexual Resistance and Imagination in the New South, Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures, and Mutha’ is Half a Word!: Intersections of Folklore, Vernacular, Myth, and Queerness in Black Female Culture.


Carla Kaplan

Carla Kaplan is the Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature at Northeastern University.  She is the author of Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance and The Erotics of Talk: Women’s Writing and Feminist Paradigms as well as the editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters.


Daphne Lamothe

Daphne Lamothe is a Professor and the Chair of Africana Studies at Smith College. Her research focuses on migration narratives, methodological innovation and intervention, and, more recently, on black aesthetics and ethics. She is the author Inventing the New Negro: Narrative, Culture, and Ethnography.


John Lowe

John Lowe is the Barbara Methvin Professor of English at the University of Georgia.  He has published nine books on southern literatures, including Calypso Magnolia:  The Crosscurrents of Caribbean and Southern Literature, Jump at the Sun: Zora Neale Hurston’s Cosmic Comedy, and Approaches to Teaching Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Other Works.


Deborah E. McDowell

Deborah E. McDowell is the Alice Griffin Professor of English and Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. She is the author of “The Changing Same”: Black Women’s Literature, Criticism, and Theory and Leaving Pipe Shop: Memories of Kin, and is co-editor of The Punitive Turn: Race, Inequality, and Mass Incarceration.


N.Y. Nathiri

N.Y. Nathiri is the Executive Director for the Association to Preserve Eatonville Community, which hosts the Zora Neale Hurston Festival Of The Arts And Humanities, a multi-day, multi-disciplinary, intergenerational event held in Hurston’s hometown. She is the editor of Zora! Magazine and Zora! Zora Neale Hurston: A Woman and Her Community.


Paul Outka

Paul Outka is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Kansas, whose research focuses on ecocriticism, critical race theory, trauma studies, aesthetic theory, and the posthuman. He is the author of Race and Nature from Transcendentalism to the Harlem Renaissance.


Lisa Pecot-Hébert

Lisa Pecot-Hébert is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice and the Director of Graduate Journalism at USC Annenberg. She is also the advisor for the USC National Association of Black Journalists Chapter. She has been a staff writer at the Dallas Morning News, The New Orleans Tribune and, and she has served as the West Coast bureau chief for Youth Today and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.  


Deborah Plant

Week 2 faculty lead

Deborah Plant is an African American and Africana Studies Independent Scholar and Writer, formerly a faculty member in the Departments of English and Africana Studies at the University of South Florida.  She is the author of Every Tub Must Sit on Its Own Bottom: The Philosophy and Politics of Zora Neale HurstonZora Neale Hurston: A Biography of the Spirit, and editor of The Inside Light: New Critical Essays on Zora Neale Hurston and of Hurston’s recently released Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”.


Kevin Quashie

Week 3 faculty lead

Kevin Quashie is a Professor of English at Brown University who teaches Black cultural and literary studies.  He is the author of Black Women, Identity, and Cultural Theory: (Un)Becoming the Subject and The Sovereignty of Quiet: Beyond Resistance in Black Culture and is co-editor of the anthology New Bones: Contemporary Black Writers in America.  One of his current projects focuses on Zora Neale Hurston and the question of critique.


Claudine Raynaud

Claudine Raynaud is a Professor Emerita in the Anglophone Studies Department at the Université Paul-Valéry.  She is the author of Toni Morrison : L’esthétique de la survie and La Renaissance de Harlem et l’art nègre, and editor of Lettres noires: L’insistance de la lettre dans la culture afro-américaine.


Rebecca Wanzo

Rebecca Wanzo, is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.  She is the author of The Suffering Will Not Be Televised: African American Women and Sentimental Political Storytelling and The Content of Our Caricature: African American Comic Art and Political Belonging.


Carmaletta Williams

Carmaletta Williams is the Executive Director of the Black Archives of Mid-America and formerly a Professor of English and African American Studies at Johnson County Community College.  She is the author of Langston Hughes in the Classroom: Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me and co-editor of My Dear Boy: Carrie Hughes’s Letters to Langston Hughes, 1926–1938.

In Memoriam

The faculty and staff of Hurston of the Horizon mourn the loss of Cheryl A. Wall, who was a scheduled instructor during the opening week of the Summer Institute. Professor Wall was the Board of Governors Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English at Rutgers University. She was the author of Worrying the Line: Black Women Writers, Lineage, and Literary Tradition and Women of the Harlem Renaissance, and the editor of Changing Our Own Words: Criticism, Theory, and Writing by Black Women. She also edited two volumes of writing by Zora Neale Hurston for the Library of America – Novels and Short Stories and Folklore, Memoirs and Other Writings – as well as two volumes of criticism on Hurston’s fiction: “Sweat”: Texts and Contexts and Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Casebook. Her last monograph was On Freedom and the Will to Adorn: The Art of the African American Essay. Although the Institute will be diminished by her absence, her influence will be clearly felt through interaction with her scholarship and her influence on those of us who knew her well.