Cassander Smith

Cassie Smith

Associate Professor
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Honors College

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 “Wasteful Bodies: Conservation, Preservation and the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” which examines the discourse of sustainability shaping the transatlantic slave trade in the 16th-18th centuries. 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


  • Race and Respectability in an Early Black Atlantic (Baton Rouge: LSU, 2023)
  • Black Africans in the British Imagination: English Narratives of the Early Atlantic World (Baton Rouge: LSU, 2016)
  • “Wasteful Bodies: Imagining Conservation and Preservation in Transatlantic Slavery” (in progress)

Edited Volume

  • “The Middle Ages and Its Cultural Afterlives in the American South,” co-edited with Donna Beth Ellard and Alexandra Cook (in progress)
  • The Earliest African American Literatures: A Critical Reader, co-edited with Zachary Hutchins (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021)
  • Teaching With Tension: Race, Resistance, and Reality in the Classroom, co-edited with Philathia Bolton and Lee Bebout (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2019)
  • Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology, co-edited with Nicholas Jones and Miles Grier (New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2018)


Digital Humanities Project

  • English-American Online (EAO), by Thomas Gage, an online critical edition, co-creator, co-editor, and administrator (in progress, in collaboration with the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, Purdue University, Spelman College, and the Newberry Library)

Editorial Work

  • Associate Series Editor, African American Literature in Transition, 17 volumes, Cambridge University Press (2019 – present)
  • Special Issue Co-editor, “Dear Sister: Phillis Wheatley (Peters) Studies Now” Early American Literature 57.3 (Winter 2022)


  • “Early Caribbean Anglophone Literature: A Critical Overview” (commissioned essay, Routledge)
  • “Dear Sister: Phillis Wheatley’s Futures” Special Issue Introduction (co-written), Early American Literature, 57.3 (2022): 663-679.
  • “Respectability Politics and Early African American Literature.” African American Literature in Transition, 1750-2015: Vol I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022): 204-227.
  • “Caribbean America.” The Cambridge Companion to Early American Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021): 250-267.
  • “Race.” A History of American Puritan Literature. Kristina Bross and Abram Van Engen, eds. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020): 211-224.
  • “Africans in Early America.” A Companion to American Literature Vol I. Susan Belasco and Theresa Strouth Gaul, eds. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2020): 105-120.
  • “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. Philathia Bolton, Cassander L. Smith, Lee Bebout, eds. (Northwestern University Press, 2019): 49-68.
  • “‘Candy No Witch in Her Country’: What One Enslaved Woman’s Testimony During the Salem Witch Trials Can Tell Us About Early American Literature.” Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology. Cassander L. Smith, Nicholas Jones, Miles Grier, eds. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2018): 107-135.
  • “Finding the Modern in Early Caribbean Literature.” Literary Histories of the Early Anglophone Caribbean: Islands in the Stream. Nicole N. Aljoe, Brycchan Carey, Thomas Krise, eds. (Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2018): 193-212.
  • “Esteban, Fray Marcos and the Problem of Literary Translation on the Frontier.” Before the West Was West. Amy Hamilton and Thomas Hillard, 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 A 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. Maha Marouan and Merinda Simmons, 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.