Cassander L. Smith, President

Dr. Cassander L. Smith is an associate professor of English at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. 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.

She is the author of Black Africans in the British Imagination: English Narratives of the Early Atlantic World (LSU Press, December 2016), which examines the role of black Africans and race in England’s efforts to build its American empire in the 16th and 17th centuries. She also has co-edited two volumes of essays: Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018) and Teaching With Tension: Race, Reality, and Resistance in the Classroom (Northwestern University Press, 2019). Her essays have been published in several journals and edited collections, including Early American Literature and Studies in Travel Writing. In addition, she serves as the associate editor for Cambridge University Press’s 19-volume series African American Literature in Transition, which addresses transformations and continuities in African American literature from its origins to the present.


Her current work in progress is a monograph, Race and Respectability in Early Black Atlantic Literature. The book examines the ways in which issues of race, class, and morality merge in the emancipation rhetoric of an early modern black Atlantic. Her research has been funded by grants and fellowships from the University of Alabama, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Newberry Library, and the Huntington Library.

Kerry Sinanan, Vice President

Dr. Kerry Sinanan is Assistant Professor of 18th and 19th Century Transatlantic Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio.


She is completing her monograph, Myths of Mastery: Traders, Planters and Colonial Agents 1750-1833 for The University of North Carolina Press. Her most recent article is with Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture (2020), ‘The “Slave” as Artifact: the Case of Mary Prince’. She has received research fellowships from the Beinecke Library, the James Ford Bell Library and in 2017 she was a Visiting Scholar at the Yale Center for British Art where she began a project on representations of enslaved mothers. 

Jason Payton, Secretary / Treasurer

Dr. Jason M. Payton is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Georgia. He is currently at work on his monograph, Rogue Ecologies: Piracy and the Environment in Early American Letters. His research and teaching interests focus on the literary representation of crime and criminality, as well as the intersections between political and environmental histories. 

His essays have been featured in the Eighteenth-Century Environmental Humanities (Bucknell UP), Early American Literature, and in the collection American Literature and the New Puritan Studies (Ed. Bryce Traister, Cambridge UP). His research has been funded by fellowships from The John Carter Brown Library and The Huntington Library. 

Kelly Wisecup, Immediate Past President

Dr. Kelly Wisecup is associate professor of English at Northwestern University, where she is also affiliated with the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research.  


She is the author of Medical Encounters: Knowledge and Identity in Early American Literatures (2013); editor of Good News from New England: A Scholarly Edition (2014); and co-editor (with Alyssa Mt. Pleasant and Caroline Wigginton) of a special issue on the relations between Native American and Indigenous Studies and Early American Studies, published in Early American Literature and the William and Mary Quarterly.  She is at work on a book about eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Native American archives and assembled texts.  Her articles have appeared in The Journal of Native American and Indigenous Studies, Early American Literature, Early American Studies, Atlantic Studies, Studies in Travel Writing, Literature and Medicine, The Southern Literary Journal, and Literature Compass.