Paul Young

Issued: Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:59:00 BST

University of Edinburgh

“take the mask off”: Biomythography and Performance in the Life(s) and Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Academic History:

2011 - 2014: BA in History and English, Oxford University

2014 - 2016: MSt in English and American Studies, Oxford University

2017 -  present: PhD English, University of Edinburgh


Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier, University of Edinburgh

Dr Keith Hughes, University of Edinburgh

Research Interests:

My current research is focused on the life and works of the late nineteenth-century African American writer, poet and performer Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), with a particular focus on the use of performance and self-mythologizing in the construction of his artistic, public and private identities. My methodology is based on Black feminist and womanist traditions, particularly Audre Lorde’s concept of biomythography; that is the intersection of biography, history and mythology in the multiple perspectives through which we see the world; and traditions of Black performance theory and masking.

Concurrent research interests span the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (just prior to the 1920s) and include

  • African American poetry and poets
  • Transatlantic literary relationships between Black artists
  • Photography and race in the United States
  • Black theatrical productions and presence in the US
  • Intersections of race and nature in US literature
  • Celebrity in the nineteenth century US, particularly with regard to Black artists

Previous Research Projects:

I successfully undertook a research project on the role of religion in black nationalism as part of an undergraduate history dissertation, and during my Masters I researched nineteenth century African American nature poetry, from which my current research has evolved.


Oxford Graduate Scholarship funded by the HEFCE

Contact Details: