Robert Stepto

Robert Stepto's picture
John M. Schiff Professor Emeritus of English, Professor Emeritus of African American Studies, Professor Emeritus of American Studies

Ph.D., Stanford University, 1974
B.A., Trinity College, Hartford, 1966

Robert Stepto’s fields of interest include early African American narratives (Equiano to Douglass and Jacobs), American Renaissance authors (especially Melville and Whitman), fin de siecle writers (Twain to Du Bois), the New Negro Renaissance (including its book art), 20th-century poetry (American and African American), American autobiography in all periods (beginning with captivity narratives), African American fiction from Chesnutt to Ellison, the American “vernacular” landscape. His special concerns include the relation of literature to the visual arts and to folklore, literary history (genre practice, canon formation), the “translation” of vernacular forms (e.g., sermons, blues) into written forms, and what some Americanists call “democracy and the pursuit of narrative.” He is also a member of the African American Studies and American Studies faculties.

Selected Publications

- “Rhythms of Race in Richard Wright’s Big Boy Leaves Home,” in Glenda Carpio, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Richard Wright, Cambridge University Press, 2019

- “A Conversation About Frederick Douglass, Featuring David W. Blight in Conversation with Robert Stepto, Moderated by Crystal Feimster,” American Academy of Arts & Sciences Morton L. Mandel Lecture, Yale University, April 2019

Blue as the Lake: A Personal Geography (1998)

- Harper American Literature Anthologies (all editions since 1993)

- From Behind the Veil: A Study of Afro-American Narrative (1979, 2nd. ed., 1991)

- ed., The Selected Poems of Jay Wright (1987)

- ed., Afro-American Literature: The Reconstruction of Instruction (1978)

- Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Literature, Art, and Scholarship (1979)


Undergraduate: Twentieth-Century African American Poetry; Autobiography in America; Ralph Ellison in Context

Graduate: Twentieth-Century African American Poetry; Intersections in American Literature; Ralph Ellison in Context