Deborah E. McDowell, a scholar of African American/American literature, is the Alice Griffin Professor of Literary Studies and former Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1987. Her publications include ‘The Changing Same’: Studies in Fiction by African-American Women, Leaving Pipe Shop: Memories of Kin, as well as numerous articles, book chapters, and scholarly editions. She is co-editor (with Claudrena Harold and Juan Battle) of The Punitive Turn: Race, Inequality, and Mass Incarceration. Extensively involved in editorial projects pertaining to the subject of African-American literature, she founded the African-American Women Writers Series for Beacon Press and served as its editor from 1985-1993. This project oversaw the reissue of fourteen novels by African American women writers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She also served as a period editor for the Norton Anthology of African-American Literature, now in its third edition; contributing editor to the D. C. Heath Anthology of American Literature, and co-editor with Arnold Rampersad of Slavery and the Literary Imagination. Her service on various editorial boards has included Publications of the Modern Language Association, American Literature, Genders, and African-American Review, Modern Fiction Studies, and Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. She is currently the Principal Investigator for the Julian Bond Papers Project, funded by the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
Professor McDowell has been the recipient of various grants, including the Mary Ingraham Bunting Fellowship (Radcliffe), the National Research Council Fellowship of the Ford Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center Fellowship. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Purdue University in 2006.