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Mary Helen Washington

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Distinguished University Professor, English
Affiliate Professor,

(301) 405-7634

3206 Tawes Hall
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Research Expertise

African American/African Diaspora

Mary Helen Washington is Distinguished University Professor in the English Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, specializing in 20th and 21st century African American literature.  Her monograph, The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s (Columbia University Press, 2014) received Honorable Mention in the William Sanders Scarborough Prize competition from The Modern Language Association. She has edited three collections of African American literature: Memory of Kin: Stories About Family by Black Writers (Random House, February 1991; Black-Eyed Susans and Midnight Birds: Stories By and About Black Women, reprinted Doubleday/Anchor, January 1990; and Invented Lives: Narratives of Black Women, 1860-1960, Doubleday/Anchor, September 1987.  From 1976-1980, she was the Director of Black Studies at the University of Detroit.  From 1980 to 1990, she taught at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.  She was president of The American Studies Association from 1996-1997 and was awarded the American Studies Association’s Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize for lifetime achievement in 2015.  Her current project is Afterlives: Legacies of the Black Literary Left.

 

 

 

Awards & Grants

Mary Helen Washington Writing Award

Distinguished University Professor in the English Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, specializing in 20th and 21st century African American literature.

English

Lead: Mary Helen Washington
Dates:
Funded by the Lillian and Don Bauder Fund, was inaugurated in April 2011 to support the writing of Detroit college and high school students.

Publications

The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s

The Other Blacklist explores the impact of the Left, the Communist Party, and the U.S. government spying operations on African American literature and culture during the Cold War.

English

Lead: Mary Helen Washington
Dates:
Focused on six major African American writers and artists of the 1950s, this study shows how their Left affiliations enabled them to shape an aesthetic that maintained traditions of race radicalism and literary experimentation.

The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s

The Other Blacklist explores the impact of the Left, the Communist Party, and the U.S. government spying operations on African American literature and culture during the Cold War.

English

Lead: Mary Helen Washington
Dates:

The Other Blacklist explores the impact of the Left, the Communist Party, and the U.S. government spying operations on African American literature and culture during the Cold War.  Focused on six major African American writers and artists of the 1950s, this study shows how their Left affiliations enabled them to shape an aesthetic that maintained traditions of race radicalism and literary experimentation.

Black-Eyed Susans and Midnight Birds: Stories by and about Black Women

(Revised edition of 1976 and 1980 editions.) Black-Eyed Susans was reviewed in Ms. magazine (March 1976) by Joyce Carol Oates.  

English

Lead: Mary Helen Washington
Dates:

(Revised edition of 1976 and 1980 editions.) Black-Eyed Susans was reviewed in Ms. magazine (March 1976) by Joyce Carol Oates.  

Invented Lives: Narratives of Black Women, 1860-1960

Concentrating on carefully chosen selections from ten writers, Mary Helen Washington explores the work, the realities, and the hopes of black women writers between 1860-1960.

English

Lead: Mary Helen Washington
Dates:

Concentrating on carefully chosen selections from ten writers, Mary Helen Washington explores the work, the realities, and the hopes of black women writers between 1860-1960.

Reviewed by Henry-Louis Gates, New York Times Book Review, October 4, 1987 and by Jewell Gomez in The Nation,, April 30, 1987. In The New Yorker, August 5, 2002, writer Hilton Als called Invented Lives an invaluable study."

Memory of Kin: Stories About Family by Black Writers

Critic, essayist, and anthologist Mary Helen Washington has selected nineteen stories and twelve poems by some of this century's leading black authors that oblige the reader to observe the complexities of the family in new and provocative ways.

English

Lead: Mary Helen Washington
Dates:

Critic, essayist, and anthologist Mary Helen Washington has chosen as the theme of her newest collection "the family as a living mystery." She selected nineteen stories and twelve poems by some of this century's leading black authors that oblige the reader to observe the complexities of the family in new and provocative ways.

Memory of Kin: Stories About Family by Black Writers

Critic, essayist, and anthologist Mary Helen Washington has chosen as the theme of her newest collection "the family as a living mystery."

English

Lead: Mary Helen Washington
Dates:
She selected nineteen stories and twelve poems by some of this century's leading black authors that oblige the reader to observe the complexities of the family in new and provocative ways.

Black-Eyed Susans and Midnight Birds: Stories by and about Black Women

(Revised edition of 1976 and 1980 editions.)

English

Lead: Mary Helen Washington
Dates:
Black-Eyed Susans was reviewed in Ms. magazine (March 1976) by Joyce Carol Oates.

Invented Lives: Narratives of Black Women, 1860-1960

Concentrating on carefully chosen selections from ten writers, Mary Helen Washington explores the work, the realities, and the hopes of black women writers between 1860-1960.

English

Lead: Mary Helen Washington
Dates:
Reviewed by Henry-Louis Gates, New York Times Book Review, October 4, 1987 and by Jewell Gomez in The Nation,, April 30, 1987. In The New Yorker, August 5, 2002, writer Hilton Als called Invented Lives an “invaluable study."