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Cassander L. Smith, President

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Dr. Cassander L. Smith is an associate professor of English and associate dean for academic affairs in the Honors College 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). 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.

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. 

Désha Osborne, Secretary / Treasurer

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Dr. Désha Amelia Osborne is the 2022 Centre for Research Collections Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh. She is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Africana, Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York where she teaches literature of the African Diaspora.

Dr. Osborne completed her PhD in English at the University of Cambridge where her research was a full-length study of the poem Hiroona: an Historical Romance in Poetic Form, published in 2015 with the University of the West Indies Press.

The daughter of Caribbean immigrants, she is a scholar of Caribbean and transatlantic literary history, and her teaching and research are focused on colonialism, slavery, and the migrations of people, culture, and ideas. Her current project is engaged with uncovering the lives of Black and mixed-race women and their children enslaved by North East Scots who settled and colonized in the ‘ceded islands’ of Saint Vincent, Grenada, Tobago and the Grenadines during the 18th century.  

Kelly Wisecup, Immediate Past President

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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.

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