I am a scholar of the African American experience who explores questions related to identity construction, race-making, and subjectivity. I have explored these themes through my research about autobiography, interracial civil rights activism, and, most notably, food history. My first book, Closer to the Truth Than Any Fact: Memoir, Memory, and Jim Crow, is an examination of literary memoirs of the Jim Crow South. I argue that historical reality is inherently perspectival and that there are certain aspects of past subjectivities that can best be captured through the artful use of literary language. Since then, I have continued to contemplate past felt experiences by concentrating on the quotidian processes of food preparation and consumption. More recently, I published Every Nation Has its Dish: Black Bodies and Black Food in Twentieth-Century America, which demonstrates that politically conscious eaters used food practices to enact and create ideas about nationhood and racial identity. Currently, I am working on a project about racial construction, food habits, and rail travel in the American West.
Getting What We Need Ourselves: How Food Has Shaped African American Life (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).
Every Nation Has Its Dish: Black Bodies and Black Food in Twentieth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019).
How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).
Richard Wright: From Black Boy to World Citizen (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2010).
Closer to the Truth than Any Fact: Memoir, Memory, and Jim Crow (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2008; paperback 2010).
The Routledge History of American Foodways, coedited with Michael D. Wise, (New York: Routledge, 2016).
Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop: Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama, (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2015).
American Appetites: A Documentary Reader, coedited with Lindsey R. Swindall (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2014).
Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas, 1962-1967, Coedited with John A. Kirk (Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 2011).
Awards and Recent Accomplishments Highlights
Association for the Study of Food and Society, Award for Best Edited Collection for Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop, 2017
Southern Foodways Alliance, Board Vice-Chair for Academics, 2019-
Co-editor, University of Arkansas Press Series, Food and Foodways