Profile: Hortense Spillers (1942-)

Hortense J. Spillers is an American literary critic, Black Feminist scholar and the Gertrude Conaway VanderbiltProfessor at Vanderbilt University. A scholar of the African diaspora, Spillers is known for her essays on African-American literature, collected in Black, White, and In Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2003, and Comparative American Identities: Race, Sex, and Nationality in the Modern Text, a collection edited by Spillers published by Routledge in 1991.


Spillers received her B.A. from University of Memphis in 1964, M.A. in 1966, and her Ph.D in English at Brandeis University in 1974. While at the University of Memphis, she was a disc jockey for the all-black radio station WDIA. She has held positions at Haverford College, Wellesley College, Emory University, and Cornell University. Her work has been recognized with awards from the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations. In 2013, she was the founding editor of the scholarly journal The A-Line Journal, A Journal of Progressive Commentary.

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