Welcome to the Charles W. Chesnutt Association

80+ short stories. 3 novels (and 6 more unpublished). Essay, speeches, a biography of Frederick Douglass. Chesnutt’s writings are remarkably varied in genre, style, and voice.  As archival materials and correspondence reveal, he worked at his craft, revising and reshaping work again and again.  He was also prolific. Writing in every genre, he probed deeply and imaginatively, with both an ethical sense and a capacity for play, some of the most complex issues in American society. 

The Charles Chesnutt Association welcomes all.  Join us.

News and Announcements

The Chesnutt Association sponsored a panel at the 2022 American Literature Association (May 26-29, 2022, Chicago). It was a pleasure to see a full room and to give a round of applause of appreciation to Dr. Ernestine Pickens Glass (Clark Atlanta Professor Emerita, and founder of the Chesnutt Association). The session was chaired by Professor Bill Hardwig (University of Tennessee) and featured three superb papers.

  • Alex Alston (Columbia University)
    • “Chesnutt’s Animals”

Alex Alston is a sixth year Ph.D. Candidate and Provost’s Diversity Fellow in the English and Comparative Literature department. His research explores chattel slavery and its afterlives, anti-colonial theories of the Human, and folk aesthetics through nineteenth & twentieth century Afro-American and Afro-diapsoric literature, especially the (neo)slave narrative and the novel, with a particular attention to questions of genre and geography. His dissertation, “Animal Ambivalence: Black Literature and the Discourse of Species,” was awarded the 2022-2023 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

  • Rebekah Aycock (University of Kansas)
    • “’The mark of the burglar’s tools’: The Burglary Narrative in Dockery vs. Bellamy and Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition

Rebekah Aycock is a PhD Candidate in American Studies at the University of Kansas. Her dissertation research is on home burglary from the 1860s through the turn of the twentieth century. 

  • Morgan Shaffer (University of Tennessee)
    • “Racialized Violence and the Weaponization of Forgiveness Rituals: Reading Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition

Morgan Shaffer is a PhD Candidate at the University of Tennessee. This paper examines the ways in which a white supremacy-based system weaponizes the rituals of forgiveness following racially-motivated violence, especially that of people of color, as a way to maintain the system’s structure and balance of power. It uses Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition as a literary focal point, and the modern Black Lives Matter movement as a contemporary historical comparison, using the rage and nonforgiveness of the characters of Josh Green, and Doctor and Janet Miller in the wake of racialized violence done to them and those they love as examples of this phenomenon.  

Left to Right: Rebekah Aycock, Morgan Shaffer, Bill Hardwig, Ernestine Pickens Glass, Alex Alston