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Emily Lutenski, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
American Studies

Courses Taught

ASTD 1000: Investigating America: An Introduction to American Studies; ASTD 2600: American Places: Frontiers and Borderlands; ASTD 2700: Gender, Race, and Social Justice; ASTD 2930: What Makes a Man? Manhood and Meaning in American Culture; ASTD 3020: American Mosaic: Literature and Diversity; ASTD 3030: History and Fiction: The Harlem Renaissance; ASTD 3030/WGS 3930: History and Fiction: What's American about American Women Novelists?; ASTD 4960: Senior Capstone; ASTD 5020: Frontiers and Borderlands: Contact and Conquest in the American Imagination; ASTD 5930: American Modernism; ASTD 5930: Chicana/o Literature and Culture; ASTD 5930: What's American about American Women Novelists?; ASTD 5930: Women of Color and Feminism; ASTD 6930: The Harlem Renaissance


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 comparative ethnic studies, gender studies, 20th century American literatures, and place and region. Her first book, West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands was published by the University Press of Kansas in 2015; it was a finalist for the Weber-Clements Prize for Best Book on Southwestern America, awarded by the Western History Association and the Clements Center for Southwest Studies. 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).


At SLU, Emily has taught courses on the Harlem Renaissance, frontiers and borderlands in American culture, U.S. multiethnic literatures, manhood in American culture, American women writers, Chicanx literatures and cultures, and women of color and feminist theory, along with introductory and capstone courses for the American studies major. She is a past recipient of the Helen I. Mandeville Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the Humanities (2015) and the Donald G. Brennan Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching (2014), both awarded by the SLU College of Arts and Sciences.

Publications and Media Placements


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

Articles and Book Chapters

“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

Finalist, 2015 Weber-Clements 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 Undergraduate Coordinator in the Department of American Studies and the College Preparatory Program Coordinator for the SLU Prison 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.

Past-President, Western Literature Association
Consulting Scholar, Autry Museum of the American West
Member, Undergraduate University Core Committee
College Prep Program Coordinator, SLU Prison Program
Undergraduate Coordinator, Department of American Studies