Ph.D., Emory University
African American Literature
Elizabeth J. West received her Ph.D. in English with a certificate in Women’s Studies from Emory University. She focuses on gender, race and class, with particular interest in how these issues inform representations of the spiritual in early American and African American literary works. In addition to essays in anthologies, she has published articles in CLA, MELUS, JCCH, Womanist, Black Magnolias, and South Central Review. Her current projects include a co-edited collection of critical works on African spirituality in the black Atlantic. She was among scholars interviewed in Georgia Public Broadcasting’s documentary on the 75th anniversary of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.
Her book African Spirituality in Black Women’s Fiction: Threaded Visions of Memory, Community, Nature and Being (Lexington Books 2011) is distinct in its employment of a diachronic lens to examine specific African spiritual sensibilities traceable from early to modern black women’s writings. Beginning with the poetry of Phillis Wheatley, this study traces applications and transformations of African spirituality in black women’s writings that culminate in the conscious and deliberate celebration of Africanity in Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. The journey from Phillis Wheatley’s veiled remembrances to Hurston’s explicit gaze of continental Africa represents the literary journey of black women writers to represent Africa as a creative and liberating resource.
Literary Expressions of African Spirituality. Eds. Carol P. Marsh-Lockett and Elizabeth J. West. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013.
African Spirituality in Black Women’s Fiction: Threaded Visions of Memory, Community, Nature and Being. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011.
“From David Walker to President Obama: Tropes of the Founding Fathers in African American Discourses of Democracy, or the Legacy of Ishmael.” 56 (2012) American Studies Journal (Center for American Studies, Harle-Wittenberg, Germany). http://asjournal.zusas.uni-halle.de:8001/workplace/235.html.
“Memory, Ancestors, and Activism/Resistance in Charles Chesnutt’s Uncle Julius.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 43.2 (Fall 2010): 31-45.
“Conflicting Epistemological Selves in the Narratives of Frederick Douglass.” CLA Journal. 52.1 (September 2008): 13-37.
“Religion, Race, and Gender in the ‘Race-less’ Fiction of Alice Dunbar-Nelson.” Black Magnolias Literary Journal. 3.1 (March-May 2009): 5-19.
“In the Beginning There Was Death: Spiritual Desolation and the Search for Self in Jamaica Kincaid’s Autobiography of My Mother.” South Central Review 20 (Summer-Winter 2003), 2-23. Reprinted in Jamaica Kincaid: Criticism and Interpretation. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2008. 141-158.
“Making the Awakening Hers: Phillis Wheatley and the Transposition of African Spirituality to Christian Religiosity.” in Cultural Sites of Critical Insight. Eds. Angela Cotten and Christa Davis Acampora. NY: SUNY Press, 2007. 47-66.
“Cooper and Crummell: Dialogics of Race and Womanhood.” Representing Women Rhetors: Triumphs, Complications, and Misrepresentations. Eds. Hildy Miller & Lillian Bridwell-Bowles. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2005. 81-102.
Caribbean Women Writers in Exile. Topic issue for Studies in the Literary Imagination. Co-ed. & Introduction. 37.2 (Fall 2004).
“Of Providence and Rhetoric: The Failure of Alexander Crummell’s Anglo-African Nationalism.” Slavery and Colonialism in the Atlantic World. Spec. issue of Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 5.3 (2004). Project Muse.
“Black Female Protagonists and the Abstruse Racialized Self in Antebellum African American Fiction.” Womanist Theory and Research. 3.2/4.1 (2001/20002): 50-56.
“Reworking the Conversion Narrative: Race and Christianity in Our Nig.” MELUS 24 (Summer 1999), 3-27.
“Blacks.” reprinted in enotes.com/American-history-literature.
“Slavery.” reprinted in enotes.com/American-history-literature.
“Alexander Crummell.” reprinted in answers.com.
“Black Nationalism.” reprinted in answers.com.