Date of Award

Fall 12-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Mary N. Mitchell

Second Advisor

Connie Z. Atkinson

Third Advisor

James Mokhiber


Poet and professor Sterling A. Brown (1901-1989) played a significant role in the birth of black literary and cultural studies through his literary and academic careers. Brown helped to establish a new wave of black cultural and folklore studies during his time as the “Director of Negro Affairs” for the Federal Writers’ Project. As a professor at Howard University, Brown influenced black literary studies through his literary criticisms and seminars and his role as a mentor to literary figures of the next generations. Through letters to and from Sterling Brown and manuscripts, this thesis argues that Brown’s poetry, publications and folk studies in the nineteen twenties and thirties where the groundwork for his most prolific role of teacher-mentor.


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