Cassander Smith

Cassie Smith

Associate Professor

Research Areas

  • African-American Literature
  • Early American Literature
  • Renaissance Literature


Associate Professor Cassander (Cassie) Smith completed her PhD in early American literature at Purdue University in May 2010 and joined UA’s English Department. Smith teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in early African American, American, and Caribbean literature. Both her teaching and research focus on representations of black Africans in early Atlantic literature, emphasizing the racial/cultural ideologies that helped shape English encounters with the early Americas and helped shape the literature produced about those encounters. Her current works in progress include a monograph, tentatively titled Race, Class, Emancipation and a Politics of Respectability in Early Atlantic Literature, which examines the ways in which issues of race and class merge in the emancipation rhetoric of an early modern black Atlantic. Smith is affiliated with the English Department’s Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies, the Department of Gender and Race Studies, and the Summersell Center for the Study of the South.

Selected Publications


  • Black Africans in the British Imagination: English Narratives of the Early Atlantic World, Baton Rouge: LSU, 2016

Edited Volume

  • Teaching With Tension: Race, Resistance, and Reality in the Classroom. Co-editor (under contract, Northwestern University Press)
  • Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical AnthologyCo-editor (under contract, Palgrave Macmillan Press)

Digital Humanities Project

  • Thomas Gage’s The English-American, an online critical edition. Co-creator, editor, and administrator (published in conjunction with the Alabama Digital Humanities Center and the Newberry Library, Chicago, IL.)


  • “(Some) Black Lives Matter: Respectability Politics in the Origins of African American Literature.” African American Literature in Transition, 1750-2015 (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press)
  • “Black Africans in Early America – A Critical Survey.” Blackwell Companion to American Literature Vol I(forthcoming, Blackwell)
  • “‘No Witch in Her Country’: A Meditation on Black African Presences in Early American Literature” (forthcoming, Palgrave Macmillan Press)
  • “Resisting Impulses and the Challenges of Teaching Race in the Early African American Studies Classroom.” Teaching with Tension: Race, Resistance, and Reality in the Classroom (forthcoming Northwestern University Press)
  • “Finding the Modern in Early Caribbean Literature.” Islands in the Stream: An Early Caribbean Literary History (forthcoming, Palgrave MacMillan Press)
  • “Esteban, Fray Marcos and the Problem of Literary Translation on the Frontier.” Before the West Was West. Thomas Hillard and Amy Hamilton, eds. Lincoln, NE: U of Nebraska P, 2014: 80-101.
  • “‘Nigger’ or ‘Slave’: Why Labels Matter for Jim (and Twain) in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Papers on Language and Literature 50.2 (2014): 182-206.
  • “‘For They are Naturally Born’: Quandaries of Racial Representation in George Best’s True Discourse.” Studies in Travel Writing 17.3 (2013): 233-249.
  • “Washing the Ethiop Red: Sir Francis Drake and the Cimarrons of Panama.” Race and Displacement: Nation, Migration, and Identity in the Twenty-First Century. Merinda Simmons and Maha Marouan, eds. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2013: 113-126.
  • “Beyond the Mediation: Esteban, Cabeza de Vaca’s Relaciòn, and a Narrative Negotiation.” Early American Literature 47.2 (2012): 267-291.

Encyclopedia Entries

  • “Phillis Wheatley” and “Paul Cuffe” for Great Lives from History: African Americans, edited by Carl L. Bankston III for Salem Press, September 2011.

Book Reviews

  • Cassander L. Smith (2012): Sarah M. Pearsall. Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later Eighteenth Century. Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 41:7,870-872.
  • Cassander L. Smith (2016): Trans. and Ed. Lesley S. Curtis and Christen Mucher. Stella: A Novel of the Haitian Revolution by Émeric Bergeaud. Early American Literature, 51:2, 533-5.