Lawrence Jackson

Professor of English and African American Studies


Lawrence Jackson is Winship Distinguished Research Professor of African American Studies and English at Emory University, where he specializes in African American literature and literary history.  Dr. Jackson earned his doctorate at Stanford University in English and American literature in 1997.   A recipient of grants and fellowship awards from the William J. Fulbright Fellowship program, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, he has been a Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute and the National Center for the Humanities in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.  

Professor Jackson is the author of Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius (2002), the first biography of Ellison.  His second 2010 book The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960 (Princeton University Press) won the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough award for black literature in 2011, the College Language Association’s Creative Scholarship Award 2012, the American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence, Literature, 2012, and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award for Nonfiction, 2012.  His most recent book, My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War, is a family memoir, published by University of Chicago Press.  

An essayists and observer of the American scene, Professor Jackson has written criticism and commentary for Harper’s Magazine and the Washington Post.  He has contributed original essays like “Christmas in Baltimore, 2009” to N+1 as well as “Slickheads,” anthologized in Best American Essays 2014.  His current research includes written a biography of the African American writer Chester Himes and a book on blackness and American Westerns.  


  • “I Wonder If Heaven Got a Monroe.”  Harper’s Magazine October 2015.
  • “A Little Hysterical: The Young Lives of Chester and Jean.”  Los Angeles Review of Books 15 June 2015.
  • “On Becoming More Human.” N+1  Winter 2015. 14-17.
  • “Slickheads.” N+1  Winter 2013. 21-37. Republished in Best American Essays 2014, ed. John Jeremiah Sullivan (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2014).
  • “The Ledger,” N+1 Summer 2012. 43-62.   Published in France as “Nous ne sommes pas quittes,”  trans. Catherine David, Moyen-Courrier (2013).(Notables, Best American Essays 2013)
  • “Christmas in Baltimore City, 2009.” N+1 Fall 2011. 15-24. (Notables, Best American Essays 2012.) Republished in City by City:Dispatches from the American Metropolis, eds. Keith Gessen and Stephen Squibb (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2015) 380-390.
  • “The Beginnings of Slavery.”  Antioch Review Spring 2008. 302-313.
  • “To Danville.”  New England Quarterly Winter 2007. 150-167. (Honorable mention, Best American Essays 2008)


  • Fall 2015 AAS 100 “Introduction to African American Studies: Baltimore Riots”
  • Fall 2015 AAS 261W “African American Literature: From Slavery to 1900”
  • Spring 2015 AAS 485/ENG 489 “Light, Bright and Damn Near White: Race and Skin Color in African American Literature and Culture”
  • Fall 2014 AAS385/ENG 389  “Clint Eastwood, Race, and the American Western” 


  • Fall 2014 ENG 752 “The Detective Fiction of Chester B. Himes”
  • Fall 2012 AAS385/ENG 389 “Keeping It Real: Classic Hip Hop, Authenticity, Domestic Colonialism, and the Culture of Modern America”
  • Spring 2012 ENG 358 “African American Literature: Slavery to 1900”
  • Spring 2012 ENG 489 “Shades of Indignation: The History of Black Writers Working to End Segregation in the U.S., 1938-1959”
  • Fall 2011 ENG/AAS 190 “The Legacy of African American Slavery”
  • Fall 2011 ENG/AAS 358 “African American Literature: Slavery to 1900”
  • Spring 2011 ENG 359 “African American Literature in the Age of Insurgency, 1965-1987”
  • Fall 2010 AAS 190 “Autobiography African American Style”
  • Fall 2010 ENG 489 “ ‘White Women Were All I Had Left’: The Life and Times of Chester Himes”
  • Fall 2009 AAS 100 “Introduction to African American Studies”
  • Fall 2008 ENG 210 “Ralph Ellison: American Icon”
  • Fall 2008 ENG 389 “Malcolm X and the Making of Twentieth Century Radical Celebrity”
  • Spring 2008 ENG 489 “Decolonization and the Anglophone Caribbean”
  • Spring 2008 ENG 359 “African American Literature in the Age of Insurgency, 1965-1983”