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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Afro-American Studies

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

James Smethurst

Second Advisor

Steven Tracy

Third Advisor

Mecca Sullivan

Fourth Advisor

Kevin Quashie

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Literature | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Though she is primarily associated with the New Negro Renaissance, Anne Spencer’s writing career spanned over seventy years, and her archive consists of unpublished, undated poetry and prose about the natural world written on ephemera. This project centers Spencer’s unusual archive and writing practice to demonstrate both the range of her artistry and the degree to which her relationship with the natural world informed both her poetics and sense of being. In this project, I employ “ecopoetics” as an analytical framework that both encourages exploring the place of nature in black women’s writing and facilitates the method of close-reading and textual analysis of natural world imagery in black women’s writing. My critical engagement with Spencer’s poetry facilitates new readings of the natural world within black women’s literature and also highlights ecocriticism’s failure to take race, gender, and sexuality fully into account.