I am a doctoral fellow at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and 2021 NEH Summer Scholar. I have published on Rebecca Harding Davis, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, and effective pedagogical practices. My paper, “The Scourged Back: Power of Photography and Print in the Nineteenth Century,” received the 2019 Michael Pueppke Writing Prize for best essay. I am particularly interested in nineteenth-century American literary and cultural history, women writers, visual culture, and the historical narratives of the circum-Atlantic slave trade. I am currently researching the ways in which photography and print served as tools of identity, agency, and power during the Civil War.


Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX

Doctor of Philosophy, English 2023 (expected)

The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas

Master of Arts, English 2017

Bachelor of Arts, English Major, History Minor 2015


Kilgore College, Kilgore, Texas

Associate of Arts, English 2011



Other Publications

“Blocks of this Korl”: Substance as Feminist Symbol in “Life in the Iron Mills.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 49, no. 7, 2020, pp. 736-47. doi: 10.1080/00497878.2020.1803863.


“The Highest Calling.” The Little Orange Book II: Student Voices on Excellent Teaching, U of Texas P, 2020, pp. 11-15.


“Emily Dickinson’s ‘’Twas warm — at first — like Us—’ (Fr614).” The Explicator, vol. 75, no. 4, 2017, pp. 248-51. doi:10.1080/00144940.2017.1382439.


 “Emily Dickinson’s ‘I’ve known a Heaven, like a Tent –’ (Fr257).” The Explicator, vol. 75, no. 2, 2017, pp. 125-28. (with Dr. Ann Beebe).


Blog Posts


I am currently working with the renowned “Scourged Back” photograph and its associated print narratives. The photo and the narratives that surround it, used by C19 abolitionists as a horrific symbol of chattel slavery, continue to draw interest from historians, artists, and civil rights activists. Yet, the identity of the photo’s subject, historically known only as “Gordon,” remains a mystery to scholars. As of late, there has been a renewed scholarly interest in the photograph, with the most prolific scholars arguing that the photograph, its narratives, and the limited biographical information on Gordon were fabricated for the abolitionist cause. Although much attention continues to be directed toward the photograph and its place in abolitionist history, the notoriety of the photograph overshadows the narrative of the man himself. As such, the biography of the man who is credited with exemplifying the horrors of slavery has been relatively unexplored. However, through my own research, I have been able to identify Gordon’s full name and have located documentation of at least part of his story. I have found archival records that not only corroborate his military service, but that also make note of his scars. In addition, I have located other documents that provide his approximate date of death. Nevertheless, in order to complete my research and publish my findings, I still have considerable work to do. Much of the work that remains on this project depends on access to archived documents, letters, and photographs that are currently inaccessible due to COVID restrictions. While this project is part of a larger recovery project, my ultimate goal is to recover as much of Gordon’s life story as is possible. In doing so, I hope to restore to him an identity obscured by abolitionist propaganda, thereby extending at least some degree of historical justice to the man behind the image.

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

“’Pardon Me, for an Instant’: Thoreau, Radical Activism, Politics, and the Press,” American

             Literature Association, Boston, Massachusetts, July 2021

“Creating Identity through Revolt: Nineteenth-Century Abolitionists and the Power of the Press,”

            American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 2021 


Modern Language Association

National Council of Teachers of English

American Studies Association

African American Literature and Culture Society

Emily Dickinson International Society

Golden Key International Honor Society

Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society




Carol DeGrasse

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