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  • Gabrielle Foreman
    Ned B. Allen Professor of English
    Professor of Black American Studies & History
    University of Delaware
    Department of English
    133 Memorial Hall
    Newark, DE 19716
    Office Hours: On sabbatical 2017-18


    P. Gabrielle Foreman is the Ned B. Allen Professor of English and Professor of History and Black American Studies at the University of Delaware. She has published extensively on issues of race, slavery and reform in the nineteenth century with a focus on the past’s continuing hold on the world we inhabit today. She is the author of several widely known books and editions. In her Penguin edition of Our Nig: or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet Wilson, known as the nation’s first Black woman novelist, Foreman and her co-coeditor “managed to pick up one of the coldest trails in nineteenth-century African American studies.” The radio tour that followed reached millions of listeners; lectures were “pick of the week” in cities such as Philadelphia and featured in articles such as the Boston Globe. A later collaboration with poets, choreographers and composers transformed Foreman’s research into a performance piece that has been adopted in classrooms across the country and viewed by thousands online. Her 2013 state of the field essay about the growing popularity of race in the humanities as fewer African Americans are trained to be leaders in these field calls for deliberate attention to be paid to this ongoing trend by universities, leading repositories and professional organizations.

    Foreman has been a Kellogg National Leadership Program fellow, a fellow at the National Humanities Center and the Huntington Library, among others. As a Ford Foundation Fellow, she provides mentorship for emerging and mid-career faculty of color across disciplines and institutions. She co-founded Action for Social Change and Youth Empowerment which provided in-depth training to cohorts of young people who then took seats on the Boards of Directors of leading and state-wide organizations whose work impacted youth and facilitated a culture of cooperation across organizational sectors, racial groups and immigrant statuses.

    Foreman has a long-standing commitment to the intersection of digital technologies, race and public history. In the 1990s, she was part of a three person interdisciplinary that fully integrated digital technologies into first-year required courses at liberal arts colleges for the first time. Foreman is the founding faculty director of the Colored Conventions Project, which since 2012 has made digitally available six decades of Black political organizing that overlapped with and was obscured by the abolitionist movement. The project has involved over 1000 students across the country in undergraduate research through its curriculum adopted by the Project’s national teaching partners while launching a transcription project recognized alongside those by the British Library and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

    Foreman has been recognized for her teaching, advising and scholarship, winning college-wide awards for distinguished teaching and scholarship. She is currently completing The Art of DisMemory: Historicizing Slavery in Poetry, Performance and Material Culture and a co-edited volume (with her graduate students), Colored Conventions in the Nineteenth-Century and the Digital Age, linked to digital exhibits for the public, which will be featured on

    View Dr. Foreman's CV.


  • Ph.D., Ethnic Studies, University of California - Berkeley, 1992
  • B.A., American Studies, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Amherst College

Research Projects 

  • Colored Conventions Project
    Foreman, Gabrielle
    In collaboration with Patterson, Sarah; Casey, James; and many others too numerous to list here
    In the decades preceding the Civil War, free and fugitive Blacks gathered in state and national conventions to advocate for justice as Black rights were constricting across the country. recovers and shares information about delegates and associated women whose civic engagement, political organizing and publications have long been forgotten. The Colored Conventions Project, which features graduate students as leaders across its committees, has been covered in the New York Times and was selected as an NEH Digital Humanities grant winner.
    To learn more, visit:


  • Activist Sentiments: Reading Black Women in the Nineteenth Century
    Foreman, Gabrielle
    Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

    Activist Sentiments takes as its subject women who in fewer than fifty years moved from near literary invisibility to prolific productivity. Grounded in primary research and paying close attention to the historical archive, this book offers against-the-grain readings of the literary and activist work of Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Wilson, Frances E. W. Harper, Victoria Earle Matthews and Amelia E. Johnson.

    Part literary criticism and part cultural history, Activist Sentiments examines nineteenth-century social, political, and representational literacies and reading practices. P. Gabrielle Foreman reveals how Black women's complex and confrontational commentaryoften expressed directly in their journalistic prose and organizational involvement—emerges in their sentimental, and simultaneously political, literary production.

  • Our Nig: or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet E. Wilson (Penguin Classics 150th anniversary edition)
    Foreman, Gabrielle; Reginald Pitts
    New York: Penguin Classics, 2004.

    ​For the 150th anniversary of its first publication, a new edition of the pioneering African-American classic, reflecting groundbreaking discoveries about its author's life. First published in 1859, Our Nig is an autobiographical narrative that stands as one of the most important accounts of the life of a black woman in the antebellum North. In the story of Frado, a spirited black girl who is abused and overworked as the indentured servant to a New England family, Harriet E. Wilson tells a heartbreaking story about the resilience of the human spirit. This edition incorporates new research showing that Wilson was not only a pioneering African-American literary figure but also an entrepreneur in the black women's hair care market fifty years before Madame C. J. Walker's hair care empire made her the country's first woman millionaire.

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