Nicole A. Spigner is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Northwestern University’s African American Studies Department.
I received my Ph.D. from the English Department of Vanderbilt University. My research and teaching focus broadly upon African American literature, Gender and Women’s Studies, and American Studies. I study nineteenth-century African American literature with a concentration in Black Classicism; however, I consider the 19C long and keep my eye on the spaces of transition (read: the turn of the century). The area of Black Classicism, first named Classica Africana by V. Michele Ronnick in 1996, includes the study of ancient cultures and art, as well as neoclassical writings and imaginings by persons of African descent.
My book project, entitled Niobe Repeating: Black New Women’s Literature and Ovidian Transformation, examines works by black women authors who rewrote Ovidian forms and plot lines and redefined black feminine identity as a dynamic process of transformation. My project examines the neoclassical poetry and fiction of: H. Cordelia Ray, Pauline E. Hopkins, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson. Although I begin with Phillis Wheatley, I concentrate on these later writers to examine the figure of the “precarious mother” as a metonym for the black woman author and intellectual at the turn of the twentieth century.