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College of Arts and Humanities

Susanna Ashton

Susanna Ashton


Department of English
Office: 611 Strode

Ph.D. English, University of Iowa; M.A. English, University of Iowa; B.A. English, Vassar College


Research Interests
Notions of authentication and identity in slavery & freedom narratives; 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century American Literature; collaboration; surveillance studies; copyright; history of the book; periodical culture; abolitionist literature; Charles W. Chesnutt; American Literary Realism; Life Writing

Dr. Ashton is a scholar of literature and testament and works as an expert on contested authorship of slavery or freedom narratives.

From 2021-2022 she was a W.E.B. DuBois Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, has held a Fulbright to Ireland, has held a research fellowship with Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance, and also one at the University of Pennsylvania’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies (a non-stipendiary sabbatical award). In 2023 she served as a co-director of a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on Reconstructing the Black Archive. South Carolina as Case Study with Dr. Rhondda Thomas of Clemson and Dr. Gregg Hecimovich and Dr. Kaniqua Robinson of Furman University. Other notable national awards include an American Printing History Association fellowship, the William Dean Howells Fellowship at Harvard University’s Houghton Library at Harvard, a Woodruff Library research fellowship in African American Studies at Emory University, a Cushwa Center Award from the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of American Catholicism, and a research award for the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina. She was also a Twain scholar-in-Residence with the Mark Twain Center in Elmira, New York (ask her about living alone in the Twain house!).

Dr. Ashton is the author of Collaborators in Literary America, 1820-1920, and co-editor of various collections, including “I was Born in South Carolina,” South Carolina Slave Narratives; (with Rhondda R. Thomas) The South Carolina Roots of African American Thought; (with Tom Lutz) These ‘Colored’ United States; (with William Hardwig) Approaches to Teaching Charles W. Chesnutt; and Samuel Williams’ autobiography “Before the War and After the Union.” She has additionally authored chapters and articles in journals and magazines such as American Literary Realism, MELUS, Southern Spaces, Studies in the Novel, College English, Commonplace, Frontiers, Biography, the American Literary Review, the Southern Literary Journal, History Ireland, American Periodicals, Libraries and Culture, JSTOR Daily, Symplok?, and others. Her edition of 28 Years a Slave or My Life on Three Continents by Thomas Lewis Johnson is in process for Clemson University Press.

Her biography of John Andrew Jackson titled A Plausible Man. The True Story of the Escaped Slave Who Inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin from The New Press (NY), is forthcoming 2024.

Learn more about her work and projects at .

Du Bois Fellow (Harvard's Hutchins Center); Fellow (Yale's Gilder Lehrman Center); Fulbright (University College Cork); (PI) NEH Summer Institute 2022-2023,


Selected Professional Works

Books (Published)

Collaborators in Literary America 1870-1920. Palgrave MacMillan Press, 2003.

Books (In Production or Under Contract)

A Plausible Man. The True Story of the Escaped Slave who Inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin. -- The New Press, NY, Forthcoming 2024.

28 Years a Slave by Thomas Lewis Johnson, in a new edition with an introduction and annotations by Susanna Ashton under contract with Clemson University Press.

Books (Edited)

Before the War and After the Union by Sam Aleckson. Written by Samuel Williams. Edited by Susanna Ashton (Clemson University Press / Liverpool University Press, 2021)

Susanna Ashton & William Hardwig, eds. Approaches to Teaching Charles W. Chesnutt. (New York, NY: Modern Language Association, 2017)
- Winner of the Sylvia Lyons Award from the Charles W. Chesnutt Association (2018)

Rhondda R. Thomas & Susanna Ashton, eds. The South Carolina Roots of African American Thought. A Reader. (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2014).

"I Belong to South Carolina." South Carolina Slave Narratives. University of South Carolina Press, 2010.
-A Choice magazine Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association for 2010

An edited and annotated edition of Moondyne, by John Boyle O'Reilly. University College Cork - electronic press (CELT Project).

These "Colored" United States: African American Essays from the 1920s, Co-Edited with Tom Lutz - (Rutgers UP, 1996).

Journal Articles & Book Chapters (Published)

“Ablaze: The 1849 White Supremacist Attack on the Pendleton Post Office.” Southern Spaces (Fall 2022).

“The Fugitive Slave Act and the United States of Slavery” Book chapter for African American Literature in Transition, Volume 3 1830-1850. Series General Editor: Joycelyn Moody (Cambridge UP, 2021).

“Serendipitous Juxtapositions” American Periodicals 25.1 (April 2015)

“Re-Collecting Jim. Discovering a coda, a name, and a slave narrative’s continuing truth.” The Interactive Journal of Early American Life. 15.1 (December 2014)

“’The Weight of that Crush.’ Jacob Stroyer and the Battle for Fort Sumter” The South Carolina Review. 46.2 (Spring 2014). 135-139.

With Jonathan Hepworth, “Jackson Unchained: Reclaiming A Fugitive Landscape.” The Appendix. A New Journal of Narrative and Experimental History. October 2013

“The Genuine Article” John Andrew Jackson and Harriet Beecher Stowe – Common-place. The Interactive Journal of Early American Life. Vol 13. Issue 4 (Summer 2013) See

“Slavery Imprinted - The Life and Narrative of William Grimes,” an essay in Early African American Print Culture, edited by Lara Cohen and Jordan Stein (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012). This collection is the winner of an "Outstanding Academic Title" from the American Library Association's Choice Magazine for 2012.

“Recreating a Tour, Recreating a Sense of Scholarly Engagement." - MMLA Journal 45.1 (Spring 2012), 17-25.

"Why Should a Library Invest in You? Short-Term Library Grants, an analysis." ADE Bulletin 115 (Association of Departments of English) (Spring/Summer 2011). (SAR 3.5:1)

“Entitles: Booker T. Washington and the Signs of Play” - The Southern Literary Journal 39, 2 (Spring 2007.): 1-23.  (SAR 10:1)

“Don’t You Mean ‘Slaves’ Not ‘Servants’?”  - Literary and Institutional Texts for an Interdisciplinary Classroom” College English, 69, 2 (November 2006): 156-172.  (SAR 26:1)

Reviews & Interviews

“John B. Cade’s Project to Document the Stories of the Formerly Enslaved.” A digital collection reviewed for JSTOR Daily, 26 January 2022. (1,600 word feature essay)

College of Arts and Humanities
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