Contact details


New Africa House

180 Infirmary Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9289
United States

Room 325


Britt Rusert is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture (New York University Press, 2017) and co-editor of W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America (Princeton Architectural Press, 2018), a collection of the visual graphics Du Bois and his students at Atlanta University prepared for the 1900 Paris Exposition. Fugitive Science received sole finalist mention for the Lora Romero First Book Prize from the American Studies Association as well as an honorable mention for the MLA’s Prize for a First Book.

Rusert received her Ph.D. in English and certificate in Feminist Studies from Duke University. Her research and teaching focus on black speculative fiction and visual culture, race and science, slavery and abolition, feminist and queer approaches to science and culture, and critical theory, especially Marxism, psychoanalysis, and Black radical thought. Her new project is an intensive 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. That project has been supported by a 2019 NEH Summer Stipend and a 2019-20 ACLS Fellowship. She is beginning a new project about the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic, racial terror, environmental crisis, and the origins of mutual aid organizing in the United States.


W. E. B. Du Bois's Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America, co-editor, with Whitney Battle- Baptiste (Princeton Architectural Press, 2018

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


"'The World is a Severe Schoolmaster': Phillis Wheatley's Poetics of Domination and Submission," Forthcoming in "Dear Sister: Phillis Wheatley (Peters) Studies Now," Special Issue of Early American Literature, ed. Tara Bynum, Brigitte Fielder, and Cassander Smith

"No Matter: The Challenge to Empiricism in Antebellum Black Thought," Situation Critical: Critique, Theory, and Early American Studies, ed. Max Cavitch and Brian Connolly, for Duke University Press

"W. E. B. Du Bois and the Origins of Visual Sociology: The 1900 Paris Exposition and Beyond," for The Oxford Handbook of W. E. B. Du Bois, ed. Aldon Morris, et. al, Oxford University Press


Co-editor, with The Triangle Editing Collective, Palgrave Handbook of Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Literature and Science (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

W. E. B. Du Bois, "The Princess Steel," edited and introduction with Adrienne Brown, PMLA 130.3 (May 2015): 819-29

Co-editor, with Priscilla Wald, Special Issue of American Literature: Technologies of Enslavement and Liberty 81.1 (March 2009)


"'The Art of Waiting': Robert Roberts's The House Servant's Directory and the Politics of Stasis in African American Literature, 1800-1830," African American Literature in Transition, 1800-1830, ed. Jasmine Nichole Cobb (Cambridge University Press, 2021)

"Naturalizing Coercion: The Tuskegee Experiments and the Laboratory Life of the Plantation," Captivating Technology: Race, Technoscience, and the Carceral Imagination, ed. Ruha Benjamin (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019)

"Visionary History: Recovering William J. Wilson's 'Afric-American Picture Gallery,'" with John Ernest, Rian Bowie, and Leif Eckstrom, Against a Sharp White Background: Infrastructures of African American Print, ed. Jonathan Senchyne and Brigitte Fielder (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2019)


"New World: The Impact of Digitization on the Study of Slavery," American Literary History 29.2 (Spring 2017): 267-86

"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

"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

  • 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 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