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First Book Institute


The Eighth Annual First Book Institute

Hosted by the Center for American Literary Studies

Pennsylvania State University

May 31-June 6, 2020


  • Sean X. Goudie, Director of the Center for American Literary Studies and Winner of the MLA Prize for a First Book
  • Priscilla Wald, R. Florence Brinkley Professor of English and Women's Studies at Duke University and Editor of American Literature

The stakes of successful publishing by early career professors are more urgent than ever given the current state of higher education promotion and publishing.  Responding to a glaring need in the field, the First Book Institute—now in its eighth year—features workshops and presentations led by institute faculty aimed at assisting participants in transforming their book projects into ones that promise to make the most significant impact possible on the field and thus land them a publishing contract with a top university press. Eight successful applicants will be awarded $1500 stipends to defray the costs of travel and lodging. 

Congratulations to the eight successful applicants to this year's First Book Institute!  They are:

  •  Faith Barter, Assistant Professor of English, University of Oregon

Project Title:  Fugitives, Rebels, and Cryptographers: Un-Fiction, Law, and African American Literature, 1830-1860

  • Andrew Belton, Assistant Professor of English, Oklahoma State University

Project Title: Hip Hop Illiterate: Black Hermeneutics and the Future of Literary Theory

Project Title: Protoplasmic Naturalism: Race, Reductionism, and the Biomaterial Imagination

  • Renee Hudson, Assistant Professor of English, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Project Title: Genres of the Americas: Revolution, Form, Futurity

  • Justin Mann, Assistant Professor of English, Northwestern University

Project Title: Breaking the World: Blackness and Insecurity in the New World Order

  • Paul Nadal, Assistant Professor of English and American Studies, Princeton University

Project Title: Remittance Fiction

Project Title: Insurgent Knowledge: The Poetics and Pedagogy of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich in the Era of Open Admissions

  • Ana Schwartz, Assistant Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin

Project Title: Subjective Knowledge: Disciplines of Affection in the Early Modern Colony

Learn more about the First Book Institute from this short video featuring the co-directors and participants of the 2013 First Book Institute.

"The Institute has given me a whole new perspective on my project.
I have all kinds of ideas for how I'm going to go forward from here."
-- Samaine Lockwood, 2013 participant