University professor. Born– February 27, 1948, Mantua. Parents– Terrell and Unareed (Burton) Harris. Education– Stillman College, A.B., 1969; Ohio State University, M.A., 1972, Ph.D., 1973. Taught English at College of William and Mary, 1973-1979; University of North Carolina, 1979-1993; Emory University, 1993-1996; University of North Carolina, 1996-2009; University of Alabama, 2010-present. Published many articles in professional journals and anthologies. Member, Modern Language Association of America, College Language Association, American Folklore Society, Langston Hughes Society, South Atlantic Modern Language Association, and Association of African and African American Folklorists. Received many awards for teaching and scholarship. Honorary doctorate, College of William and Mary, 2018; Received the Clarence E. Cason Award from the University of Alabama, 2018.  SEC Faculty Achievement Award, 2018. 2018-19 National Humanities Fellow.


Contemporary Authors online; University of Alabama English Department website


Black Women in the Fiction of James Baldwin. Knoxville, Tenn.; University of Tennessee Press, 1985.

Exorcising Blackness; Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals. Bloomington, Ind.; Indiana University Press, 1985.

Fiction and Folklore; the Novels of Toni Morrison. Knoxville, Tenn.; University of Tennessee Press, 1991.

From Mammies to Militants; Domestics in Black American Literature. Philadelphia; Temple University Press, 1982.

Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature.  University of Alabama Press, 2014.

The Power of the Porch:  The Storyteller’s Craft in Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, and Randall Kenan.  University of Georgia Press, 1996.

Saints, Sinners, Saviors: Strong Black Women in African American Literature. Palgrave/St. Martin’s, 2001.

The Scary Mason-Dixon Line:  African American Writers and the South.  Beacon Press, 2003.

South of Tradition:  Essays on African American Literature.  University of  Georgia Press, 2002.

Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South.  Beacon Press, 2003.


Afro-American Writers, 1940-1955.  Gale, 1988.

Afro-American Writers before the Harlem Renaissance.  Gale, 1986.

Afro-American Writers from the Harlem Renaissance to 1940.  Gale, 1987.

New Essays on Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain.  New York:  Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Selected Works of Ida B. Wells-Barnett. New York; Oxford University Press, 1991.


Afro-American Fiction Writers after 1955.   Gale, 1984.

Afro-American Poets after 1955.  Gale, 1985.

Afro-American Writers after 1955:  Dramatists and Prose Writers. Gale, 1985.

Call and Response:  The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition.  Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature.  Oxford, 2001.

The Literature of the American South:  A Norton Anthology.  W.W.Norton, 1998.

The Oxford Companion to African American Literature.  Oxford, 1997.

The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing in the United States.  Oxford, 1995.

Reading Contemporary African-American Drama: Fragments of History, Fragments of Self.  Peter Lang Publishing, 2007.