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Department of English Language and Literature


Scott Trafton

Title: Associate Professor
Department: English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-576-5890
Office: HUO 513
Resources: English Language and Literature


PhD, Duke University, 1998

Areas of Specialization 

    African American Literature
    African American Studies
    Black Cultural Studies

Recent Courses

ENGL 285 Race and Vision in African American Literature|
ENGL 287 Contemporary African American Literature
ENGL 428A African American Literature I: African American Literature to 1903
ENGL 428B African American Literature II: African American Literature 1903-Present
ENGL 430 Freedom Trains
ENGL 741 Freedom Trains
ENGL 741 Black Women Writers, Black Women Artists, and Visions of Home
ENGL 840 Blackface Minstrelsy


I’m a specialist in African American literature and culture, teaching classes all up and down the curriculum, from the colonial period to the present day. My first book, Egypt Land: Race and Nineteenth-Century American Egyptomania (Duke, 2004), was the first comprehensive study of the relationship between race and the American fascination with ancient Egypt in the 1800s; it analyzes race science, American and African American literature, archaeology, architecture, religion, and the sexual politics of neoclassical sculpture.

My second book, Gulf Coast Blues: Race, Place, and the Afrocreole Coast, is about African American culture along the American Gulf Coast from the eighteenth century onwards. It looks at strategies of Black cultural adaptation along the Gulf Coast in the fields of expressive culture, material culture, visual art, architecture, geography, music, folklore, folklife, and literature. I'm especially interested in the cultural mixing that occurred along coastal communities during and after enslavement, and, in the midst of this mixing, how Afrocreole cultural production reflected and responded to the twin challenges of continuity and change.

I’m also a prolific artistic collaborator and dramaturg, working with and publishing on contemporary experimental performance artists from South Carolina and California, as well as being an active public intellectual, presenting on Black history, Black arts, and Black culture, always working to bridge the divide between the ivory tower and what lies outside.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.