Katherine Clay Bassard

Katherine Clay Bassard

Professor of English and Africana Studies

Dr. Katherine Clay Bassard is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.  She is the author of two books: Spiritual Interrogations:  Culture, Gender and Community in Early African American Women’s Writing (Princeton U.P.: 1990); Transforming Scriptures:  African American Women Writers and the Bible (University of Georgia, 2010); and the editor of Sketches of Slave Life and From Slave Cabin to the Pulpit by Peter Randolph (West Virginia U.P. 2016).  She has published over a dozen articles and delivered numerous invited lectures and keynote addresses. She is the winner of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Humanities in the Public Interest Fellowship; a Pew Evangelical Scholars Fellowship; and a Ford Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship, National Research Council.  She is recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dr. Bassard has taught courses in African American literature and culture at the University of California, Berkeley and Virginia Commonwealth University. A highlight for her as a teacher, upon the death of Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison in 2019, was hearing from students who thanked her for introducing them to her novels.

Selected Articles:

“The Significance of Signifying:  Vernacular Theory and the Creation of Early African American Literary Study.”  Early American Literature 509:3, 2015:  849-54.

 “A Riff, A Call and A Response:  Race and the Mind/Body Problem” Legacy:  A Journal of American Women Writers, vol. 31, no. 1, Spring 2014:  73-75.

 “And the Greatest of These:  Toni Morrison, the Bible, Love”, in eds. Adrienne Seward and Justine Tally, Memory and Meaning:  Essays in Honor of Toni Morrison, University Press of Mississippi, 2014:  119-131.

“Reading Between the Lines in Neo-Slave Narratives” in ed. Angelica Duran, The King James Bible:  Across Centuries, Across Borders Duquesne University Press, Fall 2014.

“’And the Greatest of These:  Toni Morrison, The Bible, Love” Feschrift to Honor the 80th Birthday of Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison Society, February 18, 2011.

“Signs and Wonders:  The King James Bible and African American Literature” eds. Hannibal Hamlin and Norman W. Jones, The King James Bible after 400 Years:  Literary, Linguistic, and Cultural Influences (Cambridge U.P., 2010):  294-317.

“Imagining Other Worlds:  Race, Gender and the ‘Power Line’ in Edward P. Jones’ The Known World” vol. 42, no. 3-4 (Fall/Winter 2008):  407-20.

Media Appearances:

“Things Not Seen” radio show, Host, David Dault, Memphis TN, October 14, 2012

Guest column, “Faith in Memphis” section of Memphis Commercial Appeal, Oct. 14, 2012

With Good Reason, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Katherine Bassard on "Tranforming Scriptures"  [streaming audio], 2011


Ph.D. Rutgers University (English with Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies)
M.A., Virginia Commonwealth University (English)
B.A., Wake Forest University (English)