Martha J. Cutter

Professor of Africana Studies and English

1991, Ph.D. Brown University
1987, MA Brown University
1984 BA Harvard University

Research Specialities: Multi-ethnic literature of the U.S.; 19th C American History; slavery and abolition; racial passing; African American literature.

Professor Martha J. Cutter is a Professor in the Department of English and in the Africana Studies Institute. She is editor of the journal MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S. Dr. Cutter received her Ph.D. in English from Brown University, and taught previously at Kent State University, in Ohio. Her first book,Unruly Tongue: Language and Identity in American Women’s Fiction, 1850-1930 (University Press of Mississippi, 1999), examines how African American and Anglo-American women writers from the nineteenth and twentieth century contested cultural dictates about women’s speech and writing through their portrayal of literary heroines with unruly voices. She completed a second book called Lost and Found in Translation: Contemporary Ethnic American Writing and the Politics of Language Diversity (University of North Carolina Press, 2006), which examines how African American, Asian American, Mexican American, and Native American writers employ the metaphor of cultural translation to undermine the separation often created in U.S. culture between the Ethnic and the American, and between disempowered discourse and authorized verbal communication. She has published articles in journals such as American Literature, African American Review, American Literary Realism, MELUS, Women’s Studies, Legacy, Criticism, and Callaloo on authors such as Sui Sin Far (Edith Eaton), Nella Larsen, Harriet Jacobs, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Mary Wilkins Freeman, and David Wong Louie. She remains intrigued by the interrelationships between literary texts and cultural contexts, and is currently at work on a third book, Passing: The Strange Cultural and Historical Meaning of a Word, which will trace the origins of racial passing and provide a cultural history of its changing significance in U.S. society from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century.


Current Research: Published books: The Illustrated Slave: Empathy, Graphic Narrative, and the Visual Culture of the Transatlantic Abolition Movement, 1800-1852 (University Press of Georgia Press, 2017); Lost and Found in Translation: Contemporary Ethnic American Writing and Politics of Language Diversity (North Carolina Press, 2005); Unruly Tongue: Identity and Voice in American Women’s Writing, 1850-1930(University Press of Mississippi, 1998).

Martha J. Cutter
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