Mark A. Sanders

Professor of English and African American Studies (on leave 2017 - 2018)


Mark A. Sanders is Professor of African American Studies and English (B.A., Oberlin College, 1985; Ph.D., Brown University, 1992); he specializes in early twentieth-century American and African American literature and culture, more specifically, the connections between "mainstream" American modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. His research interests also include American and African American poetics, race theory, the African American novel, African American autobiography, and Afro-Cuban and Afro-Latino literature and culture. Professor Sanders teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century African American literature and culture, exploring issues of racial and cultural identity, citizenship, and freedom. He also teaches courses on Afro-Cuban literature and culture of the colonial, republican, and revolutionary eras.

Professor Sanders recently published A Black Soldier’s Story: The Narrative of Ricardo Batrell and the Cuban War of Independence, a translation of Batrell’s original memoir, Para la historia: Apuntes autobiograficos de la vida de Ricardo Batrell Oviedo, 1912. Professor Sanders is now working on a republication of the original for a Cuban audience. Sanders is also working on a collected volume of poetry by Anne Spencer.

Professor Sanders has served as Chair of African American Studies from 2008 to 2014; he currently serves on the MLA Executive Committee on English Literature Other than British or American, 2009-2014; and he served as the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program Co-Coordinator 2001-2008.

AAS Courses Taught:

  • “Introduction to African American Studies”
  • “Afro-Cuba Then and Now: Afro-Cuban Literature and Culture from 1791 Present”
  • “African American Literature to 1900”
  • “Twentieth-Century African American Novel”
  • “African American Short Fiction”
  • “Racial Essentialism and the American Novel”
  • “Slavery and Freedom in African American Culture”
  • “Black Autobiography and the Making of Western Democracy”

Selected Publications:


  • A Black Soldier's Story: The Narrative of Ricardo Batrell and the Cuban War of Independence (a translation of Para la historia: Apuntes autobiográficos de la vida de Ricardo Batrell Oviedo), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
  • Sterling A. Brown’s A Negro Looks at the South (co-edited with John Edgar Tidwell) New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Afro-Modernist Aesthetics and the Poetry of Sterling A. Brown, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999.


  • "Toward a modernist poetics," in The Cambridge History of African American Literature, ed. Maryemma Graham and Jerry W. Ward, Jr.: Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011: 220-237.
  • “Afterward: The Black Flame Then and Now,” in The Black Flame: A Trilogy, Book One, The Ordeal of Mansart (also published in Book Two and Book Three) by W.E.B. Du Bois, ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr., New York: Oxford University Press, 2007: 231-245.
  • “African American folk roots and Harlem Renaissance poetry,” in The Cambridge Companion to The Harlem Renaissance, ed. George Hutchinson, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007: 96-111.