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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

W.E.B. Du Bois Department

Britt Rusert, Assistant Professor


Chief Undergraduate Advisor

325 New Africa House, 545-2751


Office Hours: and by appointment


Fall 2016

AFROAM 117, Survey of Afro-American Literature I

AFROAM 494DI, Du Bois Senior Seminar

AFROAM 701, Major Works in Afro-American Studies I

Brief Bio

Britt Rusert received her Ph.D. in English and graduate certificate in Feminist Studies from Duke University. Her research and teaching focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century African American literature and culture, American literature of the long nineteenth century, the history of race and science, early African American print culture, gender and sexuality studies, and critical theory. She is also interested in race and genomics as well as science fiction. She is currently finishing a book titled Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture. Fugitive Science uncovers a little-known genealogy of African American engagements with natural science before the Civil war, examining how black writers and performers mobilized a wide range of sciences—from astronomy and geology to ethnology and comparative anatomy—in the struggle for emancipation, as well as in the development of more speculative imaginaries of freedom. Her second book will examine fantasy, and fantasy fiction, in the archives of slavery and freedom. Rusert has been the recipient of fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, the Center for the Humanities at Temple University, the Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy at Duke University, and most recently, was the recipient of a 2013 NEH Post-doctoral Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia.




In preparation:


Book Manuscript: Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture


Selected Publications:


W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Princess Steel,” edited and introduction with Adrienne Brown.

     “Little-Known Documents,” PMLA, (Forthcoming)


“Plantation Ecologies: James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane and the Rise of the Experimental

     Plantation” for Early American Studies, Special Issue on “The Environment and Early America,” (Forthcoming)


“Delany’s Comet: Fugitive Science and the Speculative Imaginary of Emancipation”
     American Quarterly 65.4 (December 2013): 489-518.


“Framing Finance: Rebellion, Dispossession and the Geopolitics of Enclosure in Samuel

     Delany’s Nevèrÿon Series,” with Jordana Rosenberg

     Radical History Review 118 (Winter 2014): 64-91; Special Issue: The Fictions of Finance


“The Science of Freedom: Counter-Archives of Racial Science on the Antebellum Stage”

      African American Review, 45.3 (Fall 2012): 291-308; Special Issue: On Black



“Types of Mankind: Visualizing Kinship in Afro-Native America”

     Common-place. 13.1 (October 2012).



“Grassroots Marketing in a Global Era: More Lessons from BiDil,” with Charmaine D.M. Royal.

     Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.  39.1 (Spring 2011): 79-90


“Black Nature: The Question of Race in the Age of Ecology.” Polygraph: An International

     Journal of Culture & Politics.  Issue Topic: Ecology & Ideology.  22 (September 2010): 149-66.


 “‘A Study in Nature’: The Tuskegee Experiments and the New South Laboratory.” Journal of

     Medical Humanities. 30.3 (September 2009): 155-71


Co-editor, with Priscilla Wald, Special Issue of American Literature: Technologies of

     Enslavement and Liberty 81.1 (March 2009)