Martin Summers is an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin. His research and teaching interests center on race, gender, and sexuality in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. His book Manliness and Its Discontents: The Black Middle Class and the Transformation of Masculinity, 1900–1930 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) received the American Historical Association-Pacific Coast Branch Book Award in 2005.
At Radcliffe, Summers will continue work on a social and cultural history of medicine that focuses on African American patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital, a federal insane asylum in Washington, DC. He uses the hospital as a case study through which to explore the intersections of the historical process of racial formation, medical and cultural understandings of insanity, and the exercise of institutional power. Summers is interested in investigating the role of race in the production and implementation of medical knowledge. He is also concerned with the ambivalent relationship that African Americans have historically had with the state. The study promises to draw broad conclusions regarding the racial dimension of American society’s understanding of mental illness and the racial differential in state responses to people who have been diagnosed as insane.
Summers received his BA in history and social sciences education from Hampton University and his PhD in history from Rutgers University. He has also held a postdoctoral fellowship from the Ford Foundation. His residency at Radcliffe is supported by a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars from the ACLS.