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Emily Lutenski, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department Chair
American Studies

Courses Taught

Emily teaches courses on the Harlem Renaissance, frontiers and borderlands in American culture, U.S. multiethnic literatures, manhood in American culture, U.S. women writers, Chicanx literatures and cultures, and U.S. feminist thought and the politics of race. She also loves teaching the introductory and senior thesis courses for the American studies major.


Ph.D. in English and Women's Studies, University of Michigan (2008)
M.A. in English Language and Literature, University of Michigan (2003)
B.A. with majors in English and Women's Studies, University of California at Berkeley (2000)

Research Interests

Emily’s research interests include critical ethnic studies, gender studies, and 20th century U.S. literatures and cultures. Her first book, West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands was published by the University Press of Kansas in 2015 and was a finalist for the David J. Weber Prize for Best Book on Southwestern America. She is working on a second book titled "Modern Lovers: Margery Latimer, Jean Toomer, and Race in American Culture," which has been supported by a fellowship at the National Humanities Center (2019-2020).

Publications and Media Placements


West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2015.

Articles and Book Chapters

“Arna Bontemps and Black Literary Archives.” African American Literature in Transition, 1930-1940. Edited by Eve Dunbar and Ayesha K. Hardison. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2022. 59-85.

“Dickens Disappeared: Black Los Angeles and the Borderlands of Racial Memory.American Studies 58.3 (Fall 2019): 15-36.

“Miscegenation Aesthetics: Marriage, Maternity, and Modernism in the Life and Work of Margery Latimer.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 38.1 (Spring 2019): 105-130.

“Leaving the West for the Left: Louise Thompson Patterson, the New Negro Movement, and Black Women’s Activism.” Left in the West: Literature, Culture, and Progressive Politics in the American West. Edited by Gioia Woods. Las Vegas: University of Nevada Press, 2018. 335-362.

“The New Negro Frontier: Jean Toomer, Wallace Thurman, and African American Modernism in the West.” Freedom’s Racial Frontier: African Americans in the Twentieth-Century West. Edited by Herbert G. Ruffin II and Dwayne Mack. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2018. 233-251.

“Tribes of Men: John Joseph Mathews and Indian Internationalism.” SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures 24.2 (Summer 2012): 39-64.

“Locating the Modern Mexican in Josefina Niggli’s Step Down, Elder Brother.” Western American Literature 45.1 (Spring 2010): 5-29.

“‘A Small Man in Big Spaces’: The New Negro, the Mestizo, and Jean Toomer’s Southwestern Writing.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 33.1 (Spring 2008): 11-32.

Republished in: Cane: A Norton Critical Edition, by Jean Toomer. Edited by Rudolph P. Byrd and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. 418-39.

Republished in: Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem. Edited by Davarian Baldwin and Minkah Makalani. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013. 157-180.

Honors and Awards

2020 Don D. Walker Prize for Best Essay on Western American literature, Western Literature Association.

Finalist, 2015 David J. Weber Prize for Best Nonfiction Book on Southwestern America, William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies and the Western History Association

2015 Helen I. Mandeville Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the Humanities, SLU College of Arts and Sciences

2014 Donald G. Brennan Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, SLU College of Arts and Sciences

Professional Organizations and Associations

American Studies Association
Modernist Studies Association
Modern Language Association
National Women’s Studies Association
Society for the Study of Multiethnic Literatures of the United States
Western Literature Association
Western History Association

Community Work and Service

Emily currently serves as the Chair the Department of American Studies and the College Preparatory Program Coordinator for the SLU Prison Education Program. She has served in formal capacities in the Western Literature Association, the Western History Association, and the Midwest Modern Language Association. She has also consulted on public humanities projects spearheaded by the Autry Museum of the West and the University Press of Kansas.