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College of Arts and Humanities

Rhondda Robinson Thomas

Rhondda Robinson Thomas

Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature

Department of English
Office: 711 Strode

Ph.D. English, University of Maryland (2007); M.A. Literature, University of New Hampshire (2000); M.S. Journalism, University of Georgia (1988); B.S. Communication/Media Journalism, Columbia Union College (1983)

Curriculum Vitae


ENGL 4820: American Literature to 1920; ENGL3980: American Literature Survey I; ENGL3990: American Literature Survey II; ENGL4960: Senior Seminar

Research Interests
Black self-writing, Black historiography, and 18th- and 19th-century Black literature and culture

Rhondda Robinson Thomas is the Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature at Clemson University where she teaches, researches, and writes about early African American literature in the Department of English. She has published Call My Name, Clemson: Documenting the Black Experience in an American University Community, which received honorable mention in the National Council on Public History’s 2021 book awards, co-edited The South Carolina Roots of African American Thought, and edited volume 1 of Cambridge University Press’s African American Literature in Transitions series. She has also published in American Literary History, Southern Quarterly, Biography, and African American Review , as well as chapters in A History of African American Autobiography by Cambridge University Press and Oxford Handbook of the African- American Slave Narrative by Oxford University Press.

Thomas is the faculty director of the award-winning Call My Name Project, for which she has received a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, South Carolina Humanities, and Clemson’s Office of the Provost and College of Architecture, Arts, and Humanities, and gifts through the Clemson University Foundation. She is writing a new play in collaboration with the Tectonic Theater Project and developing a NEH-funded traveling museum exhibit based on research conducted for Call My Name.

Thomas was Clemson University’s 2021Researcher of the Year and the 2021 Call of 1939 award, the highest honor given to Clemson faculty for service to the university, community, and/or nation. Currently, she serves as the Coordinator of Research and Community Engagement for Clemson University’s Woodland Cemetery and African American Burial Ground Historic Preservation Project and was recently appointed to the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission and South Carolina State Board of Review for the National Register of Historic Places. She will receive a Fresh Voices in the Humanities award from South Carolina Humanities in October 2022.

Thomas earned a PhD in English from the University of Maryland, a master’s in literature from the University of Georgia, a master’s in journalism from the University of Georgia, and a bachelor’s degree in Communication Media/Journalism from Washington Adventist University (formerly Columbia Union College).


Selected Professional Works

Books (Published)

Rhetoric, Public Memory, and Campus History, editor. Liverpool University Press / Clemson University Press, 2022.

Call My Name, Clemson: Documenting the Black Experience in an American University Community, Humanities and Public Life Series, University of Iowa Press, November 2020.

First edited and annotated edition of Jane Edna Hunter’s autobiography A Nickel and a Prayer. 1941. Regenerations series. Vol. 2. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia UP, 2011.

Journal Articles & Book Chapters (Published)

African American Literature in Transition, 1750-1800, Vol. 1, editor. Cambridge University Press, 2022.

“The Unfinished Work of Clemson University: Full Recognition for Black Citizens in Its History,” invited essay, Lincoln’s Unfinished Work: From Generation to Generation, Louisiana State University Press, 2022.

“Black Life Writing and Print Culture Before 1800,” invited essay, A History of African American Autobiography, Cambridge University Press, 2021.

"Call My Name: Utilizing Biographical Storytelling to Reconceptualize the History of African Americans at Clemson University," invited essay, Special Issue -- Biographic Meditation: the Uses of Disclosure in Bureaucracy and Politics, Biography, fall 2019.

“Reconstruction, Public Memory, and the Making of Clemson University on John C. Calhoun's Fort Hill Plantation,” American Literary History, 30 July 2018.

“Locating Slave Narratives.” Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative. Ed. John Ernest. New York: Oxford UP, 2014.

Reviews & Interviews

Review of Celeste-Marie Bernier, Characters of Blood: Black Heroism in the Transatlantic Imagination (2012), Journal of American History, April 2013.

Conference Presentations (Delivered)

“Uncovering, Preserving, Sharing and Celebrating Local African American History,” International Town and Gown Conference, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, June 2022.

“Literatures of Reconstruction and their Resonances for the Present,” roundtable, Modern Language Association, Washington, DC, January 2022.

Invited Panelist: “Archives and Special Collections,” Anti-Racism Webinar Series, Virtual Library of Virginia, October 2022

Invited Panelist: “Remedying the Silences of the Archive in Biographical Studies,” Picture a Scholar, Women’s Celebration Month Program, Clemson University, March 2022.

"Slavery, Its Legacies, and the Built Landscapes of South Carolina Universities," Architectures of Slavery: Ruins and Reconstructions, Panel facilitator, College of Charleston, October 2019.

"Early American Literature in Transition I," SEA2019, Eugene, OR, February 2019.

"Routes and Roadblocks: Considerations of Home, Migration, and Belonging in Publicly Engaged Humanities Projects," Panelist, National Humanities Conference, Honolulu, HI, November 2019.

"Call My Name: Using Digital Storytelling to Commemorate the Contributions of Black Americans in Clemson University History," Intentionally Digital, Intentionally Black Conference, University of Maryland, October 2018.

“Taking Stock of 18th-Century African American Literature in Transition,” Respondent, Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture, June 2017.

College of Arts and Humanities
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