• Maryemma Graham

    Maryemma Graham is University Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas. In 1983 she founded the Project on the History of Black Writing, which has been at the University of Kansas since 1999. With 10 published books, including The Cambridge History of African American Literature with Jerry W. Ward, Jr. (2011), The Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel (2004), Fields Watered with Blood: Critical Essays on Margaret Walker (2002), Teaching African American Literature: Theory and Practice (1998), and The Complete Poems of Frances E.W. Harper (1988) and more than 100 essays, book chapters, and creative works, she will publish with support from the Hall Center for the Humanities the translingual volume Toni Morrison: Au delà du visible ordinaire/Beyond the Visible and Ordinary with co-editors Andrée-Anne Kekeh (Université Paris 8) and Janis A. Mayes (Syracuse University) in 2014 and The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker in 2015. Her public humanities initiatives and international projects since her arrival at KU include The Langston Hughes National Poetry Project, 2002-2005, the Language Matters teaching initiative for the Toni Morrison Society 2003-2010, the Haiti Research Initiative 2011, and “Don’t Deny My Voice,” whose first summer institute on African American poetry was held in 2013. Graham has been a John Hope Franklin Fellow at the National Humanities Center, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, a Ford and Mellon Fellow and has received more than 15 grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to African American literature and culture, Graham teaches course in genre studies (the novel and autobiography), Inter American Studies (transnationalism, the Global South) and is an active proponent of the digital humanities.
  • Ayesha Hardison

    Ayesha Hardison is Associate Professor in the Departments of English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas. Her book Writing through Jane Crow: Race and Gender Politics in African American Literature(University of Virginia Press 2014) examines representations of black women in the 1940s and 1950s. Winner of the Nancy Dasher Award from the College English Association of Ohio and designated a 2014 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association, the monograph discusses the work of well-known writers like Richard Wright, Ann Petry, and Gwendolyn Brooks as well as neglected figures such as Jackie Ormes, Curtis Lucas, and Era Bell Thompson. Hardison has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation and Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and she has published articles in African American Review and Meridians. Currently, her research projects include studying African American literature and culture of the 1930s and exploring depictions of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in contemporary black cultural production. She teaches courses on twentieth-century and contemporary African American novels, black women’s writing, and black feminist theory.​
  • Marilyn Thomas-Houston




    Erin Murray (She/Her) is a Ph.D. student in Counseling Psychology at KU. She is currently a member of the Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP) and coordinator for the BBIP Scholars Program Digital Publishing cohort. In her free time, Erin enjoys painting, playing basketball, taking long walks with her dog Atlas, and listening to spooky podcasts – she is a Halloween baby after all.

    Onat Kolcu (He/Him) is a Political Science Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas. He has a B.A. from the Izmir University of Economics (Turkey) in International Relations and European Union. Also, he has an M.A. degree in Sustainable Energy from the same university. His research focuses on energy governance, terrorism, and Turkish politics. He likes to travel and learn about other cultures, especially their cuisines. Onat is currently a member of the Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP) at the University of Kansas.

    Sarah Arbuthnot Lendt (She/Her) is the Research Project and Program Coordinator for the Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW). Sarah earned her M.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 2007. In her nearly 20 years with HBW, she has coordinated a number of programs, including the NEH-funded Language Matters II: Reading and Teaching Toni Morrison (2005), Making the Wright Connection: Reading Native Son, Black Boy and Uncle Tom's Children (2010), Don't Deny My Voice: Reading and Teaching African American Poetry (2013), Black Poetry after the Black Arts Movement (2015), and Hurston on the Horizon: Past, Present, and Future (2021), as well the ACLS-funded Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP) Scholar Program. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with her family. She and her husband have two children.
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Former Staff:


    Petre (He/Him) is a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from Topeka, Kansas. He is majoring in English with a concentration on rhetoric and language. He is a student at the Honors College and a member of the KU Chess Club. Some of his many hobbies include juggling, playing bass, reading Romanian children’s books, and learning about flags.



    Brendan Williams-Childs (he/him) is a Collections Assistant with the Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP) and a graduate research assistant with the BBIP and HathiTrust Research Center collaboration. He is pursuing an MFA in Fiction and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies.

    Ashley Simmons is a third year Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas, where she is coordinating the organization of HBW’s archive. She graduated from Howard University with her bachelor's and Bowie State University (where she was awarded the BSU Graduate Scholar Award for her research) with a master's in English. Most of her research before coming to KU has focused on black science fiction and the expansion of Foucault’s concept of heterotopia, using this concept as a lens for discussing queer futurity. Through her time in the BBIP Scholars program, Ashley has expanded her research to include defining black transgressive fiction. In addition to her studies, Ashley has a background in media education and civic engagement in the after-school setting. Students she has worked with received awards for their documentary on the intersection of police brutality with a national lack of resources dedicated to student engagement during and after school. Ashley hopes to continue her passion for media production and education while pursuing her Ph.D. at KU.

    Meleah Perez is a poetry MFA student at the University of Kansas. She has a B.A. from the University of Arkansas in both journalism and creative writing. Her passions are wide-ranging and impossible to count, but among them are creative writing, anti-racism, Scorpio season, yoga, and her dog, Sadie. Meleah is currently a member of the Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP) as a collections assistant at KU and hopes to create a bubble of inclusivity wherever she goes.

    Jared Ohm is the Black Literature Network Coordinator for the Project of the History of Black Writing (BHW). Jared earned his B.S. in Biology from Northwest Missouri State University in 2016 and Masters in Clinical Psychology from Emporia State University in 2020. Jared is currently in his second year in the Counseling Psychology PhD program at the University of Kansas. Jared has worked as a therapist with predominantly Black populations in the Kansas correctional system for the past three years. When not conducting research or school related tasks, Jared enjoys spending time with his family, reading, and doing Zumba.

    David Jones Miller (He/Him) is a poet, publisher, and PhD student at the University of Kansas. He is the author of several books and chapbooks, including CANT (Black Radish Books), Fold (These Signals Press), As Sequence (These Signals Press), and Facts & Other Objects (JR Vansant). He lives with his family.

    Sandra Jacobo (she/her) currently works as the coordinator for the Black Literary Suite for 2022. She is a PhD student in the English department. Her research focuses on Afro-Caribbean narratives from the Hispanophone Caribbean and Haiti. At present, her pedagogical goals are to teach and present her students with Caribbean literature; highlighting other[ed] experiences of blackness in the United States.

    Jade Harrison is a second-year doctoral student in English studying late-twentieth century African American women’s literature and compliments her literary studies in the Digital Humanities. She is currently a member of the Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW) and serves as Project Manager for the Black Book Interactive Project (BBIP) at the University of Kansas.

    Itzik Harosh is a 3rd year doctoral student in the counseling psychology program at KU. His role through B2 Digital Project is focused on the transfer of content of the previous BBIP site to the new system. In addition, he will provide support with deliverables for the Digital Humanities Advancement Grant.

    Victoria Garcia Unzueta (sher/her, they/them) currently serves as the Social Media Coordinator for the Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW) where she manages the social media team and organizes the content that’s featured on HBW’s blog and social media sites. She is currently a junior studying journalism with an emphasis in strategic communications. Her future plans are to work in advertising helping non-profits or internationally focused businesses. Victoria joined the HBW team her freshman year as an Emerging Scholar undergraduate research assistant. She worked with the social media team to curate blog posts and social media content. She also worked on HBW’s 2020 Black Literary Suite “Black Writing in Reel Time'' where she helped research and write.
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Afro PWW Leadership:

Afro PWW Staff:

  • Charlotte Russell Cox

    Dr. Charlotte Russell Cox is an Instructional Designer in the Office of e-Learning at North Carolina Central University where she provides support to faculty to create innovative online learning experiences. Dr. Russell Cox previously served as the Instructional Technology Specialist for Academic Computing Services at Technology Campbell University where she assisted faculty members with integrating technology into their courses. Prior to her work in higher education, she was a Technology Teacher and Instructional Technology Specialist/Webmaster in a K-12 school system. Her research interest has a focus on adult learning, online education, professional development, instructional design, MOOCs, and communities of practice. Dr. Russell Cox has fifteen years of experience in the educational technology field. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education/Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Master of Science in Instructional Technology from North Carolina A&T State University, and an E-Learning graduate certificate from North Carolina State University. She earned her doctoral degree in the Adult and Community College Education program at North Carolina State University.
  • Mary Borgo Ton

    As a scholar of nineteenth-century visual culture and global history, I am particularly excited to support Black Studies projects that incorporate multimedia and intertextual sources. My enthusiasm for digital publication platforms like Scalar stem for their ability to offer interactive reading experiences. Designing a digital born dissertation transformed my writing process, teaching me how to pivot to multiple audiences and modes of scholarly communication. These experiences have made me eager to help authors adapt their own writing processes to digital publishing workflows. Whether it’s brainstorming how to make multiple paths through your material or making the transition to digital publishing as smooth as possible, I’m delighted to support you at any stage of the publication process. Before joining the IOPN team, I earned my Ph.D. in British Literature with a concentration in Victorian literature and a Graduate Certificate in Digital Arts and Humanities from Indiana University. My background in teaching professional writing and composition has given me a pragmatic approach to writing. Contributing to multimodal digital collections of materials from the global south, including Livingstone Online, One More Voice, and Archivo Mesoamericano, has helped me to synthesize humanities-based interpretive practices with technical expertise. As a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow for Latin America and Caribbean Studies and as the Digital Pedagogy Specialist for the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities at Indiana University, I have honed my pedagogy skills by leading numerous workshops on multimedia writing and digital approaches to global history. In my current position, I support authors and editors in all stages of the publication process as they create long-form digital scholarly works in Pressbooks, Omeka, and Scalar for the Illinois Open Publishing Network.
  • Dan Tracy

    As a member of the AFRO PWW 2 Tech Team and in my role directing the Illinois Open Publishing Network (IOPN), I look forward to teaching digital publishing concepts to participants in the Institute and working with authors and editors seeking to publish their projects through the AFRO-PWW series at IOPN. My research, across different disciplines, has engaged with design for imagined and real audiences in both print and digital contexts. My dissertation work and related publications examined how United States mass magazines in the early twentieth century imagined their audiences and created ideas about experimental modernism on a large scale. In my work in the library, I focus more specifically on user experience of digital publications and digital publishing platforms. How do digital publications impact the ways users read and absorb academic and literary writing, and what are the implications for thinking about audience when creating a digital publication—especially if it departs from the design of traditional books or articles? How can we make digital publishing platforms easy to use and create for those audiences? At the University of Illinois Library, I am an Associate Professor and Head, Scholarly Communication and Publishing. Before my work in the library, I received a PhD in English and MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois. At IOPN I help develop strategic partnerships, publishing policy, and manage our relationships with journals, as well as participating in outreach, education, and consultation work with authors and editors.
  • Alex Dryden

    In my role as the visiting research programmer for IOPN, much of my work takes place behind the scenes, where I manage the technical infrastructure that supports the IOPN publication platforms. So, as a member of the AFRO PWW 2 Tech Team, I am looking forward to helping scholars learn how to use our publishing systems. Before joining the IOPN team, I earned a Master of Science in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying digital librarianship, web design, and data analytics. My research interests include using automated text analysis methods to better understand and manage collections. I also hold an MFA in Poetry from The New School, which I used to teach literature and creative writing in New York City before joining IOPN. My literature interests focused on collage, recombination and erasure, and I appreciate the ways that digital publishing allows authors and readers to rethink how they engage with texts. I am excited to explore with authors the many new ways we can leverage digital publishing and open access publishing to meet their professional and research goals. In the Institute, I can help you better understand the functions and capabilities of our publishing systems, learn and implement various web technologies, and troubleshoot any technical issues you encounter.
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