Program in the History of the Book  in American Culture


Writing Across the Color Line:
U.S. Print Culture and the Rise of Ethnic Literature, 1877-192

with Lucas Dietrich

Thursday, March 25, 2021 2 pm

Approx. 45 minutes

Watch on YouTube coming soon

This program is free but requires advanced registration.

The American Antiquarian Society is hosting a virtual book talk with Lucas Dietrich, author of Writing Across the Color Line: U.S. Print Culture and the Rise of Ethnic Literature, 1877-192.

Writing Across the Color Line examines interactions between U.S. writers of color and the predominantly white publishing trade at the turn of the twentieth century. The book considers how a constellation of ethnic authors—Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Charles W. Chesnutt, Finley Peter Dunne, W.E.B. DuBois and Sui Sin Far— sought commercial publication as a means to influence a national audience.

With significant archival research, Lucas A. Dietrich recovers how this body of literature was selected for publication, edited, manufactured, advertised, and distributed—yet faced hostile criticism and backlash from its readers. Writing Across the Color Line thus historicizes the turn of the twentieth century as a period of experimental possibility for American literature. It sheds light on the transformative potential of ethnic literature and the tenacity of racist attitudes that dominated the literary marketplace.

Lucas Dietrich is Adjunct Professor of Humanities at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Visiting Lecturer of English at Framingham State University. He is also a council member and former president of the New England American Studies Association. Dietrich’s research focuses on nineteenth-century American literature, critical ethnic studies, and the history of the book. He has been the recipient of a Northeast Modern Language Association Fellowship at the Newberry Library, a Directors’ Scholarship at Rare Book School, and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia. He has published articles in Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), Book History, and Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (PBSA).

Order this book directly from the publisher at

Lucas Dietrich

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