Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

E. Wilson Lyon Professor of the Humanities; Chair of English
With Pomona Since: 2021
  • Expertise


    Cherene Sherrard-Johnson is a professor and chair of English at Pomona College. For 20 years, she taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was the Sally Mead Hands-Bascom Professor of English. Her research is primarily focused on Black female representation in mid-19th to early 20th American literature and visual culture.  She is the author of Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance (Rutgers UP, 2007), an interdisciplinary study of representations of the “New Negro” woman as a mixed-race icon in the literary and visual culture of the Harlem Renaissance and Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color, (Rutgers UP, 2012) a 2013 BCALA honor book. She is the editor of A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance (Wiley 2015), which brings together 28 established and emerging scholars to produce the most comprehensive anthology in Harlem Renaissance studies. Current scholarly projects include editing the Cambridge Companion to the Black Body in American Literature.  

    Her debut poetry collection Vixen was published by Autumn House Press in September 2017. Her second poetry collection Grimoire was published September 2020. A graduate of the Cave Canem Summer Workshops, her fiction and poetry have been published in numerous anthologies, including The Ringing EarDark Matter: Reading the Bones, and Gathering Ground, and literary journals such as Los Angeles ReviewCrab Orchard Review, Prairie Schooner, New York Times Magazine, Plume, The Journal and Gulf Coast. Her creative nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in ISLE, Water~Stone Review, and Hidden Compass.

    She is the recipient of many fellowships and awards including a Kellett Mid-Career Award (UW-Madison), National Endowment for the Humanities Award, and 2019 Outstanding Women of Color Award. Her essay “A Plea for Color: Nella Larsen’s Mulatta Iconography” (2004) was awarded the Foerster prize for best essay published in American literature. Her poetry chapbook, Mistress Reclining (2010) won the New Women’s Voices Award sponsored by Finishing Line Press and judged by Carol Hamilton.  She is also the recipient of fellowships to Sewanee Writers Conference and the Ragdale Foundation. Grimoire was a New York Public Library’s Top Ten Poetry Books of 2020.

    Research Interests

    • Harlem Renaissance
    • Black Ecologies
    • Archipelagic American Studies
    • Feminist Theory
    • 19th and 20th Century American Literature

    Areas of Expertise

    • African American Literature
    • Caribbean Literature
    • Feminist Theory
    • Visual Culture
  • Work



    Grimoire. Poetry Collection. Pittsburgh: Autumn House Press, 2020.  [New York Public Library’s Top Ten Poetry Books of 2020; Reviewed in New & Noteworthy Poetry New York Times; Art + Lit Laboratory; Ms. Magazine September 2020 Reads for the Rest of Us;; Glasswork Magazines]

    Vixen. Poetry Collection. Pittsburgh: Autumn House Press, 2017.  [Reviewed in Foreword Reviews; My San Antonio; Exemplars;]

    A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance. Edited by Cherene Sherrard-Johnson. Chicester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.  (484pp) [Reviewed in MELUS]

    Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012.  [Reviewed in American Literary History; American Studies; Choice; Martha’s Vineyard Times; CLA]

    Mistress, Reclining. Poetry Chapbook. New Women’s Voices Award Series. Kentucky: Finishing Line Press, 2010. (40 pp)

    Comedy: American Style. Jessie Redmon Fauset.  Edited and introduction, annotations, appendix by Cherene Sherrard-Johnson. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2009.  [Reviewed in American Literary Realism]

    Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007. [Reviewed in MELUS; Legacy; African American Review; Choice]

    Recent Articles

    Sensing Black Coral,” in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, isab050, 2021

    “Ghostly Outlines,” English Language Notes. April 2021 59:1. 225-228.

     “What I Learned About a Pioneering Black Cookbook Author By Cooking Her Recipes,” 2020

    “Isle of Refuge” in Water~Stone Review 22 (2019). [Pushcart Prize Nomination 2019; Best American Notable Travel Writing of 2019]

    Saltworks” in
    [Finalist for the Fall 2018 Travel Writing Nowhere Magazine]

    Perfection with a hole in the middle”: Archipelagic Assemblage in Tiphanie Yanique’s Land of Love and Drowning. Journal for Transnational American Studies (Summer 2019) 93-123.

    Recent Interviews

    Brigham Young University. Humanities Center Podcast:
    On Academics, Aesthetics, and Advocacy, with guest Cherene Sherrard, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    (January 2021)

    To the Best of Our Knowledge, A Parenting Revolution, May 22, 2021

    Badger Talks Podcast, “On Poetry and Meaningful Baking

  • Education


    Ph.D., Cornell University

    M.A., Cornell University

    B.A., University of California Los Angeles

  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    • Kellett Mid-Career Award, UW-Madison 2020
    • Outstanding Woman of Color Award UW-Madison,  2019
    • BCALA Honor Book Prize for Dorothy West’s Paradise
    • Walter E. Dakin Poetry Fellowship to Sewanee 2018.  
    • External Faculty Fellowship, Stanford University Research Institute of the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) 2011-2012
    • Foerster Prize in American Literature Awarded to the best essay published in American Literature
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Award.
    • Editorial Boards, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, Modernity/Modernism.