Assistant Professor
Humanities Building 225
(205) 934-8592

Research and Teaching Interests: African American Literature, Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Critical Race Theory, Black Popular Culture and Film

Melissa Asher Daniels. Office Hours: W 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

  • BA, University of La Verne
  • MA, Claremont Graduate University
  • MA, Northwestern University
  • PhD, Northwestern University, American & African American Literature

Melissa Asher Rauterkus (née Daniels) specializes in nineteenth-century African American and American literature and culture, with a special emphasis on American literary realism. Her other research interests include American film and Critical Race Theory.

Her book project, African American Realisms and the Romances of Race: Rethinking Nineteenth-Century Literary History, which is under contract with LSU Press, explores how late nineteenth-century battles over the meanings of race, slavery, and genre created alternative modes of mimetic writing that borrowed heavily from ostensibly outdated discourses like the gothic, historical, and sentimental romance. Arguing that these seemingly anti-realist discourses were better equipped to depict the crisis of racism as an intrinsically emotional phenomenon, regulated by an economy of feeling, Rauterkus's study highlights a longstanding tradition of black writings about affect and subjectivity during the "nadir of American race relations."

Dr. Rauterkus is also the editor for a forthcoming Broadview Press edition of Pauline Hopkins's novel Of One Blood; Or, The Hidden Self (1902-03). Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in American Literary Realism, Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, African American Review, and Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture. She has a secondary appointment in UAB's African American Studies program.

  • Independent Black Cinema
  • The African American Novel & the Nadir
  • Black Literary Realism
  • Introduction to Black Studies
  • Reading, Writing, and Research for English Majors
  • African American Literature, 1746-1954
  • The Slave Narrative and Its Literary Expressions
  • African American Realisms and the Romances of Race: Rethinking Nineteenth-Century Literary History (LSU Press, under contract).
  • Editor, Of One Blood; Or, the Hidden Self, by Pauline Hopkins (Broadview Press, under contract).

  • "Racial Fictions and the Cultural Work of Genre in Charles Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars,” American Literary Realism 48.2 (Winter 2016):128-46.
  • “The National Body Divided: America, Italy, and Mark Twain’s Literary Caesarian Operation in Pudd’nhead Wilson,” Mississippi Quarterly 67 (Fall 2014):515-33.
  • "The Limits of Literary Realism: Of One Blood's Post-Racial Fantasy by Pauline Hopkins," Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters 36 (Winter 2013):158-77.
  • "Assessing What Was African American Literature; or The State of the Field in the New Millennium," African American Review 44 (Winter 2012):567-91.
  • African American Literature & Culture Society
  • American Studies Association
  • American Association of Blacks in Higher Education
  • C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
  • Modern Language Association