Keith Clark

Keith Clark

Keith Clark

Distinguished University Professor

20th-Century African American Literature; African American Literary Masculinity Studies; Black LGBTQ+ Literature; African American Drama; Major Authors: James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines, Ann Petry

Keith Clark is Professor of English and African and African American Studies. He earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary (1985) and a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1993). He is the author of Black Manhood in James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines and August Wilson (Illinois UP, 2002), The Radical Fiction of Ann Petry (Louisiana State UP, 2013; winner of the College Language Association Creative Scholarship Award), and editor of Contemporary Black Men's Fiction and Drama (Illinois, 2001). His latest book, Navigating the Fiction of Ernest J. Gaines: A Roadmap for Readers, was published in Spring 2020 by Louisiana State.  His critical and pedagogical essays and book reviews have appeared in Callaloo, African American Review, The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, Resources for American Literary Study, American Writers V, Modern Drama, and GLQ.  His teaching interests include Black Literary masculinity studies, the Black bildungsroman, and African American LGBT studies. In addition to his academic interests, he is involved in several community service projects related to mentoring, tutoring, and hospice.

Selected Publications

Navigating the Fiction of Ernest J. Gaines: A Roadmap for Readers. Louisiana State UP, 2020.

  • Honorable mention (runner up), 2021 C. Hugh Holman Award for the best book in Southern Studies, Society for the Study of Southern Literature 

The Radical Fiction of Ann Petry, Louisiana State UP, 2013.

  • Winner, College Language Association Creative Scholarship Award, 2014

Black Manhood in James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines, and August Wilson. U of Illinois P, 2002.

(ed.) Contemporary Black Men's Fiction and Drama. U of Illinois P, 2001.

“Rootlessness: Afro-Pessimism as Foundation in Paradise.” The Bloomsbury Handbook to Toni Morrison. Ed. Kelly L. Reames and Linda Wagner-Martin. London: Bloomsbury, 2023. 101-22.

Review of Darius Bost, Evidence of Being: The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and the Politics of Violence, GLQ, 28.2 (2022): 299-305.

Introduction, The Narrows by Ann Petry, 1953. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2017. vii-xxxvi. 

“‘A Mighty Queer Place': Textual and Sexual Dis-Ease in Ann Petry’s Country Place,” African American Review (Summer 2016): 93-110.

  • Honorable Mention (2nd place) in African American Review’s Weixlmann Prize Category
  • Nominated, 1921 Prize in American Literature, MLA’s American Literature Association

“Blues Brothers: Crosscurrents in Fences and A Streetcar Named Desire.” Approaches to Teaching the Plays of August Wilson. Ed. Sandra G. Shannon and Sandra L. Richards. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2016. 32-44.

Review of Randall Kenan (ed.), The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings by James Baldwin, Resources for American Literary Study, 35 (September 2012): 714-17

"Que(e)rying the Prison-House of Black Male Desire: Homosociality in Ernest Gaines' 'Three Men.'" African American Review (Summer 2006): 239-55.

"Are We Family? Pedagogy and the Race for Queerness." Black Queer StudiesA Critical Anthology. Ed. E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2005. 266-75

"'From a Thousand Different Points of View': The Multiple Masculinities of Ann Petry's 'Miss Muriel'".  Ann Petry's Short Fiction: Critical Essays. Ed. Hazel Arnett Ervin and Hilary Holladay. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. 79-96. 

(co-ed., with Stephanie Brown). "Black Literary Masculinities." Special section of Callaloo 26.3 (Summer 2003).

Courses Taught

ENGH 202: African American Literary and Cultural Masculinities

ENGH 345: African American Drama

ENGH 350: African American Literature through 1946

ENGH 351: Contemporary African American Literature

ENGH 441: Toni Morrison

ENGH 441: James Baldwin and Ann Petry

ENGH 661: Advanced Survey of African American Literature

Recent Presentations

“Lessons Before and After Dying: The Life and Art of Ernest J. Gaines in ‘Post-Racial’ America,” James Weldon Johnson Institute’s Race and Difference Colloquium Series, Emory University, November 2020.

"Invisible Woman/Native Daughter: The Life and Fiction of Ann Petry," Institute for African American Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, April 2016.

“‘This Gon’ Be My Place’: Ernest J. Gaines and the Manifold Meanings of Home,” Third Annual Ernest J. Gaines Lecture (Keynote Address), University of Louisiana at Lafayette, November 2015.

“Honoring Ann Petry,” Fall for the Book Literary Festival, George Mason University, September 2013. Co-presenter with Elisabeth Petry (Ann Petry's daughter).

“Before Toni Morrison and Alice Walker: The Forgotten Fiction of Ann Petry,” The Vision Series, GMU-Fairfax Campus, Center for the Arts Concert Hall, February 2012.


In the Media

Interview on Ernest J. Gaines on “On the Margin” hosted by E. Ethelbert Miller, WPFW-FM, Washington, DC, April 2020 and March 2018. 

"Keith Clark Talks about Publishing in the Age of Covid-19"

“With Good Reason,” Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Radio Program, September 2017, conducted by Sarah McConnell.

“With Good Reason,” Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Radio Program, June 2014, conducted by Sarah McConnell.