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Britt Rusert

Assistant Professor

(413) 545-2751

325 New Africa House

Britt Rusert is Assistant Professor in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture (New York University Press, 2017).  Rusert received her Ph.D. in English and certificate in Feminist Studies from Duke University. Her research and teaching focus on African American literature and visual culture, American literatures to 1900, Afrofuturism, science and technology studies, gender and sexuality, and critical theory. She is currently working on a study of William J. Wilson’s “Afric-American Picture Gallery” (1859), a text that imagines the first museum of black art in the United States. With Adrienne Brown, she is also editing W. E .B. Du Bois’s short genre fiction. Their edition of Du Bois’s fantasy story, “The Princess Steel,” was published in PMLA.

Professor Rusert’s research has been supported by 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, and the Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy at Duke University. She has also been the recipient of an NEH post-doctoral fellowship from the Library Company of Philadelphia.



Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture (New York University Press, Spring 2017)






“From Black Lit to Black Print: The Return to the Archive in African American Literary Studies," Review Essay for American Quarterly (Forthcoming)

“New World: The Impact of Digitization on the Study of Slavery,” American Literary History (Forthcoming)

“Disappointment in the Archives of Black Freedom,” Social Text 33.4 (December 2015): 19-33

“Plantation Ecologies: James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane and the Rise of the Experimental Plantation," Early American Studies 13.2 (Winter 2015): 341-73

“Framing Finance: Rebellion, Dispossession and the Geopolitics of Enclosure in Samuel Delany’s Nevèrÿon Series,” with Jordy Rosenberg, Radical History Review 118 (Winter 2014): 64-91; Special Issue: The Fictions of Finance

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

  • 2014 Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies (INCS) Essay Prize

  • Finalist Mention, Constance Rourke Prize, for best article published in American Quarterly in 2013

“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 Performance

  • Honorable Mention, Darwin T. Turner Award, for best essay published in the African American Review in any period of African American or pan-African Literature, 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