Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

Professor of English
6179 Helen C. White Hall
(608) 263-3757
E-mail Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
African American literature, 19th-century American literature, feminist theory

Degrees and Institutions

PhD, Cornell University, 2000
BA, UCLA, 1995

Selected Publications



Research Interests

African American Literature, 19th Century American Literature, Feminist theory, cultural studies and Caribbean Literature.

Current Projects

I have just completed a biography of Harlem Writer Dorothy West. Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color is a critical, feminist biography that examines West’s life and writing in order to enhance our understanding of the particular intersecting geographies of class and race in American culture. By focusing my analysis on West’s chosen retreat, an African American enclave on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, I weave literary criticism into my cultural history of the island community that West saw as both a separatist refuge and an interracial sanctuary.

Recent Books

  • Dorothy West's Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color

    Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

    Rutgers University Press


    An essential book for both fans of West's fiction and students of race, class, and American women's lives, Dorothy West's Paradise offers an intimate biography of an important author and a privileged glimpse into the society that shaped her work.

  • Mistress, Reclining

    Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

    Finishing Line Press


    "Cherene Sherrard’s fascinating book, MISTRESS, RECLINING, draws the reader into the confusions and triumphs of various historical women who must struggle against problems with race and gender. The author’s poetic originality and fascinating topic will delight the reader of this collection." –Carol Hamilton, former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and author of The Dawn Seekers

  • Comedy: American Style, by Jessie Redmon Fauset

    Cherene Sherrard-Johnson, Ed.

    Rutgers University Press


    Comedy: American Style, Jessie Redmon Fauset’s fourth and final novel, recounts the tragic tale of a family’s destruction—the story of a mother who denies her clan its heritage. Originally published in 1933, this intense narrative stands the test of time and continues to raise compelling, disturbing, and still contemporary themes of color prejudice and racial self-hatred.

  • Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance

    Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

    Rutgers University Press


    Of all the images to arise from the Harlem Renaissance, the most thought-provoking were those of the mulatta. Due to the mulatta's frequent ability to pass for white, she represented a variety of contradictory meanings that often transcended racial, class, and gender boundaries. Portraits of the New Negro Woman investigates the visual and literary images of black femininity that occurred between the two world wars.