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Meet our staff

Institute Staff

Our dedicated staff brings a wealth of administrative and organizational experience to the Hurston on the Horizon Summer Institute, including work on numerous grant and research projects.


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 Langton Hughes Review focused on a 2017 conference that she co-organized to mark the 80th anniversary of Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.


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 (HBW), 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.


Sarah Arbuthnot Lendt

Institute Coordinator

Sarah Arbuthnot Lendt is the Research Project and Program Coordinator for the Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW). She earned her M.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 2007 and worked as the editorial assistant on the Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel and the Cambridge History of African American Literature. This is the fifth NEH-funded Summer Institute on which she has served as grant and institute coordinator.


Jade Harrison

Graduate Research Assistant

Jade Harrison is a second-year doctoral student in English studying late-twentieth century African American women’s literature and compliments her literary studies in the Digital Humanities. She is currently a member of the Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW) and serves as Project Manager for the Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP) at the University of Kansas.


Christopher Peace

Graduate Research Assistant

Christopher Peace holds a B.A. in Writing from Mississippi College and a M.A. in Literature from Jackson State University, where he completed his thesis entitled, “Zora Neale Hurston’s Conjure Memes: A Post-structuralist Analysis of Mules and Men and Tell My Horse.” Some of his academic interests include ethnographic writing, creative nonfiction, cultural memetics, African Diaspora spiritual systems, ecocriticism, afrofuturism, and African American folklore. At HBW he is a member of the Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP) and Black Literary Suite teams. 


Jonathan Perkins

Technology Consultant

Jonathan Perkins is the Director of the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center (EGARC) and the Open Language Resource Center (OLRC). He received his B.A. in Russian and Soviet Area Studies from Middlebury College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Kansas. Jonathan and his staff have provided technical support for five different HBW NEH-funded Summer Institutes. He is also the Executive Director of the KU Language Training Center.


Keah Cunningham

Website Consultant

Keah Cunningham is the Assistant Director of the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center (EGARC) and the Open Language Resource Center (OLRC). She holds a B.S. in Information Systems (with an Italian minor) and an M.S.E. in Educational Technology. She is responsible for all of EGARC’s technical infrastructure, training faculty in the use of technology, and coordinating EGARC’s web-based projects — which include five websites for HBW’s NEH-funded Summer Institutes.