RJ Boutelle received dual BAs in English and Philosophy from UMass – Amherst before going on to complete his PhD in English at Vanderbilt University. 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 U.S. 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 USAmerican 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, 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.
He has received fellowships from Fulbright, the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami, and the American Antiquarian Society, and his articles have appeared in Atlantic Studies: Global Currents, MELUS, and American Literature. He also has works forthcoming in African American Literature in Transition, 1880-1900, ed. Barbara McCaskill and Caroline Gebhard (Cambridge UP), and Caribbean Literature in Transition, 1800s-1920s, ed. Evelyn O’Callaghan and Timothy Watson (Cambridge UP).
AML 4604 - African American Literature to 1895
ENG 3822 - Intro to Literary Studies
LIT 3213 - Literary Theory
AML 2010 - USAmerican Literature to 1865
ENG 3822 - Intro to Literary Studies (Davie)