American Studies Program Director, Professor of English and American Studies
M.A., Ph.D. Brown University
B.A. University of Massachusetts-Boston
Areas of Expertise:
African American literature, especially poetry
Courses I Teach:
- African American Literature
- American Literature I and II
- First-Year Seminar on Race and Culture
- Genres: Poetry; Senior Seminar on various topics (latest: Literature and the Blues)
- The Middle Passage (Transatlantic Slave Trade in History, Memory, and Imagination)
My Saint Michael's:
My classes offer the opportunity to engage students in discussions of race, racism, African American literature and history. I have worked hard to develop strategies for safely approaching what can often be loaded material that challenges students' comfort zones. I often incorporate experiences that combine classroom study with activities in the community. This includes overnight field trips to Charlestown, Massachusetts with my First-Year Seminar course and a three-week service-learning program in Ghana with students from my Middle Passage class. Through these cross-cultural encounters, students have a chance to examine and enlarge their own perspectives. I am also a faculty member in the college’s American Studies program.
There is a real commitment here to teach the whole student. I enjoy having a chance to shape hungry young minds and develop personal relationships with students. Saint Michael's students have open minds and good hearts. They are very empathetic, kind, and friendly, and many are interested in finding ways to connect what they learn in classes to the larger world. They also have a strong desire to contribute to the community through service. My favorite class to teach is African-American Literature and The Middle Passage, because it's a chance to introduce our students to a tradition they know little about, and to push their comfort zones.
American poetry, African-American literature
I am currently working on a book entitled Reports from Vernacular Valleys: Post-Sixties Black Poetry and the Public Sphere. I published a book chapter, "Hungry Ghosts and Restless Spirits: Lyric Voices of the Middle Passage" in Africa and Its Diaporas: History, Memory, and Literary Manifestations (Eritrea: African World Press, 2008).
Lorrie Smith, professor of English and American Studies, has accepted an offer to participate in the NEH Summer Institute "Don't Deny My Voice: Reading and Teaching African American Poetry," to be held July 14-August 3, 2013 on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. NEH Summer Scholar in this three-week institute receive a stipend for travel, housing and food.