R. J. Boutelle

R. J. Boutelle

Email: rjboutel@uncg.edu
Office: MHRA 3108


Ph.D. Vanderbilt University

M.A. Vanderbilt University

B.A. University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Research Interests

His research and teaching focuses on African American literature, hemispheric studies, and USAmerican literature in the long nineteenth century, analyzing the tensions between racial, national, and transnational identities that take shape through the lived experiences of diaspora. He is also a National Teaching Partner with the Colored Conventions Project. His current book project, The Race for America: Black Transnationalism and Print Culture in the Age of Manifest Destiny, reveals how African Americans reappropriated the racial nationalism of USAmerican expansionism in the period between the U.S.-Mexico War and the Civil War. Mining the archives of colonization, Black emigration, and Black nationalism, he contends that African Americans were central participants in debates over expansionism, reappropriating the rhetorical and political strategies of Manifest Destiny to imagine new communities and identities. Occasionally critiquing imperial aggressions against other people of color, occasionally fashioning opportunities for racial uplift through colonialist projects of their own, African Americans consistently foregrounded a role for themselves in the geopolitical reshaping of the Americas, a project that ostensibly relegated them to expurgated objects rather than imaginative subjects.

Selected Publications

“‘Greater Still in Death’: Race, Martyrology, and the Reanimation of Juan Placido,”

American Literature 90.3 (2018): 461-493.


Manifest Diaspora: Black Transamerican Politics and Autoarchiving in Slavery in Cuba,” MELUS 40.3 (2015): 110-133.


“‘The Most Perfect Picture of Cuban Slavery’: Transatlantic Bricolage in Manzano’s and

Madden’s Poems by a Slave,” Atlantic Studies: Global Currents 10.4 (2013): 528-549. Reprinted in Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas, ed. Nicole N. Aljoe and Ian Finseth (Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2014), 143-170.


‘The Past is the Parent of the Present”: Genealogy and Nonhistory in Adolphus, A Tale’” in Caribbean Literature in Transition, 1800s-1920s, ed. Evelyn O’Callaghan and Timothy Watson (forthcoming, Cambridge UP). Invited contribution.

“Black Transnationalism in the Late Writings of Frederick Douglass and Frances Ellen

Watkins Harper” in African American Literature in Transition, 1880-1900, ed. Barbara McCaskill and Caroline Gebhard (forthcoming, Cambridge UP). Invited contribution.

Awards and Honors

Faculty Research Grant, College of Arts and Letters, Florida Atlantic University, 2019

Edgar Hill Duncan Award (for highest standards of achievement and promise for the future), Department of English, Vanderbilt University, 2016

Humanities, Arts, Science, & Technology Alliance & Collaboratory (HASTAC) Scholarship, Program in American Studies, Vanderbilt University, 2015–2016

Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, 2015


Pre-Prospectus Summer Fellowship, Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami, 2012


Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Fellowship, Instituto Superior Josefina Contte, Corrientes, Argentina (2010)