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Kirsten Lee


B.A. in English (highest honors) and Comparative Literature, Williams College

M.A. in English, University of Pennsylvania


I am a scholar of the frontier geographies of racial capitalism, abolitionist politics of westward expansion, feminist archives and long nineteenth-century African American literature. My research and teaching integrate my commitments to accessibility, equity, and inclusion by focusing on Black archives and archival methods that represent ordinary life and resistance. 


My dissertation, "Scenes of Speculation: Abolition and the Movement Literatures of Black North America, 1784-1886," examines literary works by Phillis Wheatley Peters, John Marrant, Venture Smith, Sarah Mapps Douglass, Julia Collins, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Martin R. Delany, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and María Amparo Ruiz de Burton. Drawing a conceptual analogy between political organizing and migration, my dissertation advances a multi-generic approach to “movement literature,” to show how literary form broadly construed discloses the land politics of abolitionist consciousness-raising. I draw heavily on Black feminist theory and Black geography as my key methodological framework to explain abolition’s social reproduction.

Articles and Book Chapters

"Mary Ann Shadd Cary in Mexico" Insensible of Boundaries: Studies in Mary Ann Shadd Cary (2025)
"The Emigrationist Turn in Black Anti-Colonizationist Sentiment" American Literature in Transition, 1770-1828 (2022)

Courses Taught