College of Arts & Sciences

the department of African American Studies

Gary Edward Holcomb, Ph.D

Gary HolcombGary Edward Holcomb, Ph.D., English, is Professor of African American Literature in the Department of African American Studies, with a joint appointment in the Department of English. His research is in twentieth-century African American literatures, with a critical concentration on modernist period literature, including the Harlem Renaissance, the literature of the Great Depression decade, and postwar writing. He has also written on the Black Arts Movement and black transnational, postmodernist fiction.

With Charles Scruggs, University of Arizona, he is coeditor of Hemingway and the Black Renaissance (Ohio State University Press, 2012), a collection of essays by a range of scholars on the diverse, complex ways the likes of Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison respond to the instance of the white American modernist. Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, the journal of American Librarian Association, listed Hemingway and the Black Renaissance among its Outstanding Academic Titles. The OU research magazine Perspectives published an article on Hemingway and the Black Renaissance, and Athens public radio WOUB aired an interview with Holcomb about his research. Related publications include an article titled “Hemingway and the Black Renaissance,” co-written with Professor Scruggs, for Arizona Quarterly 67.4 (Winter 2012), and a chapter on “Hemingway and African Americans” for Ernest Hemingway in Context, published by Cambridge University Press. He is also currently editing Teaching Hemingway and Race for the Kent State University Press “Teaching Hemingway” series.

With OU AAS colleague Michael Gillespie, he is co-editing a critical collection on Chester Himes, for Palgrave-Macmillan press. He is also contributing a chapter on “Black Marxism and the Literary Left” to the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to the Harlem Renaissance. And he is co-editing Sex and the Left, a collection of critical essays devoted to the intersection of sex dissidence with leftist politics in modernist period writings, for the journal English Language Notes.

With regard to recent conference activity, in Summer 2013 he presented “’What’s your nakedness to me?’: Queering the Harlem Renaissance,” for a special session on new directions in Harlem Renaissance studies at the Modernist Studies Association Conference 15, at the University of Sussex, UK. Also in 2013, Professor Holcomb organized roundtable discussions on the topic of Hemingway and black writings and writers for both the American Literature Association conference and Modern Language Association Convention, both held in Boston and both sponsored by the Hemingway Society.

In 2011 Professor Holcomb published a chapter titled “When Wright Bid McKay Break Bread: Tracing Black Transnational Genealogy,” in Richard Wright: New Readings in the 21st Century, published by Palgrave-Macmillan. The chapter developed from a presentation he gave for the International Richard Wright Centennial Conference held at the American University of Paris, in 2008.

His Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha: Queer Black Marxism and the Harlem Renaissance (University Press of Florida, 2007) has been reviewed widely, in such journals as African American Review, American Literary History, American Literature, Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Callaloo, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids, and Radical History Review. It is also featured in the annual research roundups American Literary Scholarship (2007), “Fiction: 1900 to the 1930s,” published by Duke University Press, 2009, and The Year’s Work in Cultural and Critical Theory 17.1 (2009), published by Oxford University Press. Winner of honorable mention for the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Book Award, Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha is available in both cloth and paperback editions.

Professor Holcomb has attended numerous conferences and has given a number of public talks. On the occasion of McKay’s 118th birthday, September 15, 2007, he was invited to speak at McKay Day, a book launch party for Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha. McKay Day was coordinated by and held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library and premier Black Studies public research institute. He has also given lectures on the Harlem Renaissance for the USC College Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and as part of the Langston Hughes Center’s Jesse B. Semple Series in the Department of African and African-American Studies at the University of Kansas.  In March 2009 he was invited to speak at the University of Arizona’s Arizona Quarterly Symposium, where he talked on the subject of McKay, Richard Wright, and transnational mapping.

He has talked on black transnational literary and film cultures at universities in Germany and Romania, including American Studies institutes at the University of Osnabrück and the University of Bucharest. In addition to presenting at conferences throughout the United States as well as in Canada and the Caribbean, he has shared his research at scholarly meetings in France, Germany, Romania, and Spain. Moreover, he has taught courses in African American literature in Central and Eastern Europe, as Senior Fulbright Lecturer in American Studies and Literature in Romania, during the academic year of 1998-1999 and again in 2004-2005, and as Fulbright Senior Specialist in American Studies in Germany, in Summer of 2006.

Hemingway and the Black Renaissance. Co-editor, with Charles Scruggs. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2012.

Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha: Queer Black Marxism and the Harlem Renaissance. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.

Co-editor. Chester Himes, New Criticism. Palgrave-Macmillan, forthcoming.

Teaching Hemingway and Race. Kent State University Press, forthcoming.

Selected Chapters in Critical Anthologies and Articles in Scholarly Journals

“Black Marxism and the Literary Left.” Blackwell Companion to the Harlem Renaissance. London: Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming.

“When Wright Bid McKay Break Bread: Tracing Black Transnational Genealogy.” Richard Wright: New Readings in the 21st Century. Ed. Alice Craven and William Dow. Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011.  284-311.

With Charles Scruggs. “Hemingway and the Black Renaissance.” Arizona Quarterly 67.4 (Winter 2012).

“Hemingway and African Americans.” Hemingway in Context. Ed. Suzanne del Gizzo and Debra Moddelmogg. Cambridge University Press, 2012.

“The Sun Also Rises in Queer Black Harlem: Hemingway and McKay’s Modernist Intertext.” Journal of Modern Literature 30.4 (Sept. 2007): 61-81.

“Claude McKay’s ‘The Biter Bit’: ‘Calalu’ and Caribbean Colonialism.” Callaloo 30.1 (Winter 2007): 311-14.

“New Negro, New American Studies in Becoming-EU Europe.” REAL Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 23 (2007): 259-73.

“Code Name Sasha: Claude McKay Dines Out on America.” University of Bucharest Review: A Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies 7.3 (2005): 32-40.

“The Harlem Renaissance, Caribbean Radicalism, and Black Liberation Struggle: McKay’s Harlem: Negro Metropolis.” Journal of Caribbean Studies 18:1&2 (Fall 2003/Spring 2004): 71-78.

“Diaspora Cruises: Queer Black Proletarianism in Claude McKay’s A Long Way from Home.” Modern Fiction Studies 49.3 (Winter 2003): 714-41.

“Travels of a Transnational ‘Slut’: Sexual Migration in Kincaid’s Lucy.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 44.3 (Spring 2003): 295-312.

“‘I Made Him’: Sadomasochism in Kincaid’s The Autobiography of My Mother.” Callaloo 25.3 (Summer 2002): 969-76.

AAS Courses Taught
AAS 1100 Introduction to African American Literature
AAS 2100 African American Literature I
AAS 2110 African American Literature II
AAS 3100 Postmodern Blackness: Identity and Culture in Contemporary African American Literature
AAS 3110 Harlem Renaissance
AAS 4100 Literature in the African Diaspora
AAS 4110 Black Countercultures