• Position 3

Alisha Knight

Associate Professor of English and American Studies

Dr. Knight specializes in African American literature and print culture at the turn of the twentieth century.  Her teaching and scholarship favors interdisciplinarity, as she aims to expand the canon with lesser known authors and bring new perspectives to well-known ones. She is currently editing a critical edition of Pauline Hopkins’s novel, Hagar’s Daughter, for Broadview Press, and researching the early twentieth-century African American book trade. 

  • B.A., Spelman College, 1993, summa cum laude
  • M.A., Rutgers University, 1995
  • M.Phil., Drew University 2001
  • Ph.D., Drew University, 2004
Research Spotlight

Current Research

Dr. Knight is currently researching the African American book publishing trade at the turn of the twentieth century.  More specifically, she is researching the Colored Co-operative Publishing Company, a black-owned publisher based in Boston in the early 1900s.  Her work examines the peculiar nature of disseminating literature to African Americans at a time when many publishers either took this reading audience for granted or simply assumed it did not exist.

“Putting Them on the Map” is a digital humanities component of her larger project.  This Story Map visualizes the Colored Co-operative’s nationwide network of over 240 subscription agents that not only sold books and magazines but also advanced its mission of “race uplift” and community building through empowering African Americans as canvassers.  Click here to explore this network and the profiles of a few agents. Special thanks to WC’s GIS Program for the technical know-how and support that made this Story Map possible.


Dr. Knight teaches introductory and advanced literature and American Studies courses at Washington College.  She strives to mentor students—majors and non-majors alike—to become careful, critical readers and astute, analytical writers.  She draws inspiration from Earl Lewis’s assertion, “Intellectual work is the foundation of social change,” and she aspires to empower students to become change agents.  For example, in her course, “Black Men:  Images of Race and Gender in American Literature and Culture,” she teaches students to understand how and why black images matter.  Students analyze black masculinity in American literature, print culture and the media, first by examining stereotypical images of black men in print and non-print iconography, and then by analyzing the treatment of that stereotype in works of literature.  Check out the “Course Spotlight” below to watch a brief video of her students’ final projects.  You can also follow the link to a photo gallery of their poster presentations. During this off-campus public event, the class engaged in important consciousness-raising work within their local community, at Sumner Hall.

Teaching Areas

  • African American Literature
  • The Gilded Age and American Literary Realism
  • The History of the Book in America (Print Culture)
  • Literature and Composition

 Course Spotlight

Photo gallery of “Black Men: Student Presentations on Contemporary Images”



Published Book

Pauline Hopkins and the American Dream: An African American Writer’s (Re)Visionary Gospel of Success. Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, 2012.

Selected Articles

  • “Transitions in African American Book Publishing and Print Culture.” African American Literature in Transition, 1900-1910, Ed. Shirley Moody-Turner.  Cambridge University Press. Forthcoming.

  • “To Be a Publisher:  Lillian Jones Horace and the Dotson –Jones Printing Company.” Recovering Five Generations Hence: The Life and Writing of Lillian Jones Horace. Ed. Karen Kossie-Chernyshev.  College Station:  Texas A&M University Press, 2013.
  • “‘To have the benefit of some special machinery’: African American Book Publishing and Bookselling, 1900-1920.” U.S. Popular Print Culture, 1860-1920. Ed. Christine Bold. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012.
  • “‘All Things Work Together For Good’: Pauline Hopkins’s Race Woman and the Gospel of Success.” Loopholes and Retreats: African American Writers and the Nineteenth Century. Ed. John Cullen Gruesser and Hanna Wallinger. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2009. 125-140.
  • “Furnace Blasts for the Tuskegee Wizard: Revisiting Pauline E. Hopkins, Booker T. Washington and the Colored American Magazine.” American Periodicals 17.1 (2007): 41-64.

College Service

Dr. Knight’s service to WC has included serving as the founding program director for the Black Studies minor, chairing the Service & Scholarship committee, advising Cleopatra’s Sisters, and serving on the Tenure & Promotion committee, the Honor Board, Phi Beta Kappa’s Members in Course committee, as Faculty Secretary, and as Faculty Moderator.