Gene Andrew Jarrett photo by Tony Rinaldo
Gene AndrewJarrett
2010–2011
Walter Jackson Bate Fellow
Boston University
Literature
Paul Laurence Dunbar: The First African American Poet Laureate

Gene Andrew Jarrett is an associate professor of English and African American studies at Boston University. His scholarship focuses on African American literary history, particularly the longstanding struggles of African American writers with racial representation, or the responsibility of portraying race in culturally and politically progressive ways. Taken together, Jarrett’s first two books, Deans and Truants: Race and Realism in African American Literature (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007) and Representing the Race: A New Political History of African American Literature (New York University Press, 2011), along with his multiple edited books, examine racial representation in African American literature from the 18th century to the present.

At Radcliffe, Jarrett will work on a definitive biography of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), the first professional African American writer. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Dunbar was one of the first African Americans to succeed in the literary marketplace by writing poems, stories, essays, and plays about the encounters of slaves and their children with the new worlds of freedom and modernity. Jarrett will use his fellowship year to examine Dunbar’s correspondence about his family and to write the biography’s first section, about Dunbar’s ancestry, his birth and childhood, his life after his parents’ divorce, and his early adulthood.

Jarrett earned his AB in English from Princeton University and his AM and PhD in English from Brown. His previous work has been supported by fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.