Susan K. Gillman

Distinguished Professor at UCSC
Literature, UCSC

I am a scholar of race and race-relations in the United States, the Americas, and beyond. From my usual base in the nineteenth century, I approach the study of national literatures and cultures from a “worlded” perspective developed by the cluster in World Literature and Cultural Studies at UCSC. My first book – focusing on Mark Twain’s lifelong interest in identity and imposture - explores his engagement with the changing systems of racial classification in the late nineteenth-century US. My second book considers the mode of “American race melodrama,” which I contextualize as part of the “culture of the occult,” a quasi-political meeting ground for both race radicals and conservatives. My current book in progress reaches into hemispheric and ocean studies with a project tracing the strange career of the term “American Mediterranean,” a combined scholarly metaphor and folk geographical concept, appearing and disappearing in multiple disciplines, genres and languages, a point of departure for a comparative critical study of the Americas.