RJ Boutelle

RJ Boutelle , PhD

Asst Professor


PhD: Vanderbilt University 2016 (English)

MA: Vanderbilt University 2012 (English)

BA: University of Massachusetts - Amherst 2009 (English)

BA: University of Massachusetts - Amherst 2009 (Philosophy, Spanish)

Research and Practice Interests

His research and teaching focuses on African American literature, hemispheric studies, and USAmerican literature in the long nineteenth century, analyzing the tensions between racial, national, and transnational identities that take shape through the lived experiences of diaspora. His first book, The Race for America: Black Internationalism in the Age of Manifest Destiny (UNC Press, 2023), reveals how African Americans reappropriated the racial nationalism of USAmerican expansionism in the period between the U.S.-Mexico War and the Civil War. Mining the archives of colonization, Black emigration, and Black nationalism, he contends that African Americans were central participants in debates over expansionism, reappropriating the rhetorical and political strategies of Manifest Destiny to imagine new communities and identities. Occasionally critiquing imperial aggressions against other people of color, occasionally fashioning opportunities for racial uplift through colonialist projects of their own, African Americans consistently foregrounded a role for themselves in the geopolitical reshaping of the Americas, a project that ostensibly relegated them to expurgated objects rather than imaginative subjects.

He is currently working on a number of research projects related to Charles Chesnutt's novel The Marrow of Tradition (1901), including a new critical edition for Broadview Press. His current book project is a microhistory about the 1898 Wilmington Massacre and a copy of The Marrow of Tradition that one of the only Black leaders to remain in Wilmington after 1898 gave as a gift to one of the white supremacists responsible for planning and executing that violent insurrection.


Peer Reviewed Publications

(2013. ) "'The Most Perfect Picture of Cuban Slavery': Transatlantic Bricolage in Manzano’s and Madden’s Poems by a Slave" .Atlantic Studies, , 10 (4 ) ,528-549

(2015. ) "Manifest Diaspora: Black Transamerican Politics and Autoarchiving in Slavery in Cuba" .MELUS, , 40 (3 ) ,110-133

(2018. ) “'Greater Still in Death': Race, Martyrology, and the Reanimation of Juan Placido" .American Literature, , 90 (3 ) ,461-493

Published Books

(2023. ) The Race for America: Black Internationalism in the Age of Manifest Destiny .Chapel Hill , University of North Carolina Press

Book Chapter

(2021 ) “Genealogy and Nonhistory in Adolphus, A Tale’” Caribbean Literature in Transition, 1800- 1920 .(pp. 182-197).Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

“The Uses and Limits of Black Internationalism" African American Literature in Transition, 1880-1900 .Cambridge, Cambridge University Press