Biography

Dr Thomas Ruys Smith is Head of the Department of American Studies.

Dr Thomas Ruys Smith’s primary field of research and teaching expertise is nineteenth century literature and culture. Broadly speaking, his research is focused around the life and culture of the Mississippi River. His first book, River of Dreams: Imagining the Mississippi Before Mark Twain (Louisiana State University Press, 2007) was an interdisciplinary examination of the different roles played by the Mississippi in antebellum American culture. His second book, Southern Queen: New Orleans in the Nineteenth Century (Continuum, 2011), was an exploration of the life and culture of one of America's most fascinating cities during a crucible period in its history. He is also the editor of Blacklegs, Card Sharps and Confidence Men: Nineteenth-Century Mississippi River Gambling Stories (Louisiana State University Press, 2010), and, with Prof. Sarah Churchwell, Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers, from Charlotte Temple to The Kite Runner (Continuum, 2012).

At present, he is at work on a study of the life-long relationship between Mark Twain and the Mississippi River. More generally, he has a wide range of interests in American culture – to name a few: the south and early west, crime and punishment, outlaws (particularly John A. Murrell and Joseph Thompson Hare), bestsellers and popular literature, travel and transportation, the history of American music, the nineteenth century stage, the Civil War, and popular religious movements. Dr Smith welcomes research students who are interested in any of these aspects of America literature and culture, particularly those with an interdisciplinary focus.

Website: http://thomasruyssmith.com/

Twitter: @thomasruyssmith

He also blogs about nineteenth century literature and culture at American Scrapbook.

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