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Sarah Patterson

Assistant Professor

head shot of Prof. Sarah Patterson

E456 South College

Sarah Lynn Patterson teaches African American literature in the English department at UMass. She specializes in 19th-century African American literature, women writers, Black print culture, gender and morality studies and digital humanities. Sarah's current project explores how the goals of educational and moral attainment undergirded Black intellectual-activists' racial uplift initiatives and notions of leadership. Sarah is a co-founder of the award-winning Colored Conventions Project ( She is co-editing the essay collection, Colored Conventions in the 19th Century and the Digital Age. It will be the first scholarly volume to assess the magnitude of influence Colored Conventions had upon Black intellectual and political histories.

Her teaching interests include (auto)biography, gender studies, popular newspaper cultures and social reform literature. She also advocates for interdisciplinary approaches to literary analysis and experimentation with digital tools that advance data literacy and traditional and creative textual studies.


Ph.D. University of Delaware, 2018

M.A. English. University of Delaware, May 2012

B.A. English Literature and Women's Studies (minor). University of Tennessee, Knoxville, May 2010


Co-Editor for essay collection, Colored Conventions in the Nineteenth Century and the Digital Age (in-progress)

"Towards Meaning-making in the Digital Age: Black Women, Black Data and Colored Conventions." Common-place, 16.1. Fall 2015.

Awards and Accolades

Best Electronic Reference Resource. Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association. Winner of the award presented to the Colored Conventions Project.

MLA Prize for a Bibliography, Archive or Digital Project. Modern Language Association, 2016. Winner of the tenth biennial award presented to Gabrielle Foreman, Sarah Patterson and Jim Casey on behalf of the Colored Conventions Project.

Digital Humanities Start-up Grant II awarded to the Colored Conventions Project. National Endowment for the Humanities, 2016.

Graduate Fellows Dissertation Award. Office of Graduate and Professional Education, University of Delaware, 2015-2016

Graduate Student Distinction Award for Academic Excellence. Office of the Provost, University of Delaware, 2015