William J. Maxwell
Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1122
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
African American Literature; Modern American Literature; Modernism
William J. Maxwell (B.A., Columbia University; Ph.D., Duke University) teaches courses in twentieth-century American and African American literatures. His scholarly research, rooted in both modernist and African American studies, addresses the ties among African American writing and modern poetics, political theory, and transatlantic culture. He has published over thirty articles and reviews, and two books: the award-winning New Negro, Old Left: African-American Writing and Communism between the Wars (Columbia University Press) and an annotated edition of Claude McKay's Complete Poems (University of Illinois Press). He is now at work on a book for the Princeton University Press entitled FB Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover's Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature. FB Eyes takes its cue from the recent "return of the state" and examines how federal law enforcement surveyed and inspired African American literature, framing a cosmopolitan yet state-hunted, sometimes state-haunted, tradition of the new. Using scores of Freedom of Information Act requests to paint the first full portrait of the bond between black letters and national intelligence gathering, the book argues that both the production and reception of Afro-modernist writing grappled with the long arm of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Maxwell serves on the MLA committee on twentieth-century American literature and on the editorial boards of American Literature and American Literary History.