Celeste-Marie Bernier

Personal Chair in United States and Atlantic Studies


Celeste-Marie Bernier holds a Personal Chair in English Literature.

Research summary

Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier specialises in the literatures, histories, politics, visual cultures, and philosophies of women, men, and children living in the African Diaspora over the centuries. Her research encompasses the following fields: Slavery Studies, African American Studies, Black British Studies, World War I Studies, Children’s Literary Studies, Nineteenth-Century US Studies, Transatlantic Studies, Memory Studies, Life Writing, and Art History and Visual and Material Cultures.

Project activity

Her published single-authored books include: African American Visual Arts: From Slavery to the Present (Edinburgh University Press and University of North Carolina Press, 2008), Characters of Blood: Black Heroism in the Transatlantic Imagination  (University of Virginia Press, 2012; winner of the 2013 British Association for American Studies Book Prize and co-winner of the 2014 European American Studies Network Book Prize), Suffering and Sunset: World War I in the Art and Life of Horace Pippin (Temple University Press 2015; winner of a Terra Foundation for American Art International Publication Grant, 2015).

Her on-going and forthcoming single-authored books include: Imaging Resistance: Representing The Body, Memory and History in Fifty Years of African American and Black British Visual Arts (University of California Press, 2017); Radical Remembering: A History of Contemporary African American Art (I. B. Tauris and University of Georgia Press, 2019);“Struggles for Liberty:” Frederick Douglass’s Family in Letters, Writings, and Photographs; Living Parchments: Artistry and Authorship in the Life and Works of Frederick Douglass (Yale University Press, 2018).

She has completed and is currently working on numerous co-authored and co-edited books and journal special issues, including: (co-edited with Judie Newman and Matthew Pethers) A Companion to Nineteenth Century American Letters and Letter-writing (Edinburgh University Press, 2016); (co-edited with Hannah Durkin) Visualizing Slavery: Art Across the African Diaspora (Liverpool University Press, 2016); (co-edited with Zoe Trodd and John Stauffer; Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Afterword by Kenneth B. Morris Jr.) Picturing Frederick Douglass (W. W. Norton & Co., 2015); (co-edited with Bill E. Lawson) I am the Painter; Imaging and Imagining Frederick Douglass (Liverpool University Press, 2018); (co-authored with Alan Rice and Hannah Durkin), Inside the Invisible: Slavery and Memory in the Works of Lubaina Himid (1985-2015) (Liverpool University Press, 2018). For the bicentenary of Frederick Douglass’s birth in 2018, she is preparing a new scholarly edition of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave in addition to numerous other activities that will include an exhibition as well as international symposia and public workshops. Having written over thirty articles published in internationally peer reviewed journals and books and organized numerous international conferences and symposia, she has delivered over 150 keynotes, plenary and invited lectures and papers nationally and internationally to public as well as higher education institutions.

In 2010. she was the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Art History while in 2011 she was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellowship. In 2012 she was given a Terra Foundation for American Art Program Grant for an international symposium on African Diasporic art which was held at the University of Oxford. In 2010, she was awarded a University of Nottingham Lord Dearing Award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Teaching and Learning.” In addition to supervising large numbers of PhDs and MRes to completion, she has held visiting appointments and fellowships at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, King’s College London and the University of California, Santa Barbara, in addition to her recent position as the Dorothy K. Hohenberg Chair in Art History at the University of Memphis (2014-15) and her current appointment (2016-17) as the John Hope Franklin Fellow at the National Center for the Humanities in Durham, North Carolina.