Kenyon  Gradert
Assistant Professor
Howard College of Arts and Sciences
English
209 Russell Hall
kgradert@samford.edu
205-726-2309

Kenyon Gradert publishes widely on 19th-century American literature, religion, and reform. His first book, Puritan Spirits in the Abolitionist Imagination (The University of Chicago Press, 2020), reveals how abolitionists embraced the Puritans in the fight against slavery. His current project, Holy Books, examines how the Bible came to be read “as literature” while literature was claimed as new scripture.

Gradert is also an award-winning teacher with interests that range from specialized seminars on abolitionism to surveys of intellectual history from the Reformation to the present. As visiting faculty at Deep Springs College, he accompanied students on cattle drives in the White Mountains and high desert of California. (His partner was a blue-eyed pinto named Utah.) With his wife and son, he enjoys hiking and motorcycling.

Degrees and Certifications

Ph.D. Washington University in St. Louis

Awards and Fellowships

  • Volkswagen Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Heidelberg University, Center for American Studies (2017-2018)
  • Teaching Awards (2014, 2017, 2019)
  • New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, Archival Research Fellow, 2016
  • Graduate Affiliate, John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, Washington University, 2014 - 2016

Books

Puritan Spirits in the Abolitionist Imagination, University of Chicago Press, “American Beginnings, 1500 – 1900” Series, April 2020

Selected Articles

  • “Theodore Parker and the Problem of Criticism,” invited article for special issue of ESQ, forthcoming
  • “The Mayflower and the Slave Ship: Pilgrim-Puritan Origins in the Antebellum Black Imagination,” MELUS,3 (Fall 2019)
  • “Forgotten Texts: Lorenzo Dow Blackson’s Kingdoms of Light and Darkness,” African American Review, 3 (Fall 2019)
  • “A Paper Puritan of Puritans: The Liberator’s Protestant Spirit in the Antebellum Public Sphere,” Journal of American Studies, 4 (Fall 2018)
  • “Swept into Puritanism: Emerson, Wendell Phillips, and the Roots of Radicalism,” The New England Quarterly, 90.1 (Spring 2017)
  • “Life Writing and Romantic Expressivism,” Handbook of American Romanticism, ed. Philipp Löffler, Clemens Spahr, Jan Stievermann, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021

Awards

  • Volkswagen Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Heidelberg University, Center for American Studies (2017-2018)
  • Teaching Awards (2014, 2017, 2019)
  • New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, Archival Research Fellow, 2016
  • Graduate Affiliate, John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, Washington University, 2014 - 2016