Werner Sollors

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Harvard University, Cambridge

PhD, professor

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Werner Sollors earned his doctorate from the Freie Universität Berlin and is Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Research Professor of English at Harvard University, having joined the faculty in 1983. He served as chair of Afro-American Studies from 1984 through 1987 and from 1988 through 1990, of American Civilization from 1997-2002, and of Ethnic Studies from 2001 through 2004 and in academic year 2009-10. He has taught at Columbia University, at the Università degli Studi di Venezia, Cà Foscari, and as Global Professor of Literature at New York University Abu Dhabi.

His most recent books are The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s (2014), African American Writing: A Literary Approach (2016), and Challenges of Diversity: Essays on America (2017). In 2012 he prepared an expanded centennial edition of Mary Antin’s The Promised Landand a Norton Critical Edition of Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition. He has written essays on ethnicity, pluralism, migration, multiculturalism, and numerous individual authors, among them Olaudah Equiano, Mark Twain, W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt, Mary Antin, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, Henry Roth, Richard Wright, Ed Bullins, Adrienne Kennedy, Amiri Baraka, and Charles Johnson. 

He is the recipient of Fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was awarded the Constance Rourke award for the best essay in American Quarterly and the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award at Harvard UniversityA corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and of the Academia Europaea and an honorary member of the Bayerische Amerika-Akademie, he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.

Research Interests:

race, ethnicity, interracialism, migration, multilingualism, and themes and motifs in literature of the United States and of Europe.


Selected bibliography:


Amiri Baraka / LeRoi Jones: The Quest for a “Populist Modernism.” New York: ColumbiaUniversity Press, 1978.
Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture. New York: Oxford UniversityPress, 1986. 294pp.
Neither Black nor White yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature. New York:Oxford University Press, 1997.
Schießwerder 29: Eine Familiengeschichte. Blasebalg-Verlag, 2006.
Ethnic Modernism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008.
The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s. The Belknap Press of Harvard UniversityPress, 2014.
German translation by Sabine Bayerl: Die Versuchung, zu verzweifeln.Heidelberg: Winter Universitätsverlag, 2017.
African American Writing: A Literary Approach. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2016.
Challenges of Diversity: Essays on America. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press,2017.

Contributions to Books:

“German, Jewish, American: Magic Words that Define Judaism in the Cincinnati“German, Jewish, American: Magic Words that Define Judaism in the CincinnatiDeborah.” In: The Turnaround Religion, eds. Nan Goodman and Michael Kramer. Aldershot:Ashgate Publishing, 2011: 369-388.
“Introduction.” The Norton Critical Edition of Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition.New York: W.W. Norton, 2012: i-xl.
“Introduction.” Imagining Blackness in Germany and Austria, eds. Charlotte Szilagyi,Sabrina K. Rahman, and Michael Saman. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge ScholarsPublishing, 2012: 1-8.
“Jewish American Prose Writing: Immigration and Modernity, 1900-1945.” In: TheCambridge History of Jewish American Literature, ed. Hana Wirth-Nesher. New York andCambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015: 87-123.
“Introduction.” Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson. The John Harvard LibraryCambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2015: xi-xxxiii.
“Arrivals and Departures.” Harbors, Flows and Migrations: Un the U.S.A. in/and the World,eds. Vincenzo Bavaro, Gianna Fusco, Serena Fusco and Donatella Izzo. Newcastle uponTyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017
“American phantasmagoria.” American Phantasmagoria: Modes of Representation in USCulture (in honor of Alide Cagidemetrio), eds. Rosella Mamoli Zorzi and Simone Francescato. Venezia: Supernova Publishing, 2017: 205-222.
“‘Heritage’ in America: A Literary Stroll.” Crossing Borders: Essays on Literature, Cultureand Society (in honor of Amritjit Singh), eds. Tapan Basu and Tasneem Shahnaaz. Madison,Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2017: 235-250.
“Adrienne Kennedy.” Visions of Tragedy in Modern American Drama, ed. David Palme. London: Bloomsbury, 2018: 133-140.
“The Family of Man: Looking at the Photographs Now and Remembering a Visit in the1950s.” Revisiting Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man: Photography and Humanism in the GlobalAge, eds. Gerd Hurm, Anke Reitz and Shamoon Zamir. London: I.B. Tauris, 2018: 95-115.

“Black Studies in the United States: A Bibliography.” Jahrbuch für Amerikastudien 16 (1971): 211-222.

“How German Is It? Multilingual America Reconsidered.” In American Studies in“How German Is It? Multilingual America Reconsidered.” In American Studies inScandinavia 32:1 (2000; special issue on NOT ENGLISH ONLY: Redefining American Studies, ed. Orm Øverland): 96-106.

”“Holocaust and Hiroshima: American Ethnic Prose Writers Face the Extreme.” Publications of the Modern Language Association 118:1 (Spring, 2003): 1-11.

“Joined at the Hip: African-American Studies, U.S. Cultural Studies and the NewInternationalism.” Annales du monde anglophone 18 (2003), eds. Hélène Le Dantec-Lowry &Arlette Frund: 37-48.

“Hemingway, Film Noir, and the Emergence of a Twentieth-Century American Style.” REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 21: Literature, Literary History, and Cultural Memory. Ed. Herbert Grabes. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 2005: 45-55.

“Introduction.” For special issue “Writing American in Languages Other ThanEnglish,” Comparative American Studies 4 (2006): 247-250.

“'Is this Literary History?' Response to a Dialogue between Mark Bauerlein andPriscilla Wald." Chronicle of Higher Education (November 1, 2009).

“The Next Turn in American Literary and Cultural Studies.” Rivista di Studi Americani 19 (2008): 83-85.

“The Celtic Nations and the African Americas.” Comparative American Studies 8:4 (December 2010): 316-322.

“The Mark Twain Anthology.” Comparative American Studies 8:4 (December 2010): 340-342.

“Obligations to Negroes who would be kin if they were not Negro.” Daedalus 140:1(Winter 2011): 142-153.

Co-written with Glenda Carpio, “Five Harlem Stories by Zora Neale Hurston.” Amerikastudien / American Studies 55:4 (2010): 557-561.

Co-written with Glenda Carpio. “The Newly Complicated Zora Neale Hurston.” Chronicle of Higher Education (January 7, 2011).

“What Might Take the Place of Late Generation European American Ethnicity?”Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies 37:5 (2013): 778-780.

“James Arthur Miller (1944-2015).” History Workshop Journal 83:1 (Spring 2017): 359-364.


1981 Guggenheim fellow

1990 Constance Rourke Award for the best essay in American Quarterly

1997-98 Walter Channing Cabot fellow

1999-2000 National Endowment for the Humanities fellow

2003 Lifetime achievement award for outstanding scholarship and criticism of the field of U.S. ethnic literary studies, MELUS

2003 Sylvia Lyons Award for contribution to scholarship on the life and works of Charles W. Chesnutt, Charles W. Chesnutt Association

2006 Everett Mendelssohn Mentoring Award, Harvard University