Dr Thomas Ruys Smith is Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Culture.

His primary field of research and teaching expertise is nineteenth century literature and culture, both American and Transatlantic. Frequently, 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. His latest monograph, Deep Water: The Mississippi River in the Age of Mark Twain (LSUP: 2019), is the first book to provide a comprehensive narrative account of Twain's intimate and long-lasting creative engagement with the Mississippi. Alongside Twain's evolving relationship to the river, Deep Water details the thriving cultural life of the Mississippi in this period, from roustabouts to canoeists, from books for boys to blues songs, and highlights a diverse collection of voices each telling their own story of the river.

He is also the editor of Blacklegs, Card Sharps and Confidence Men: Nineteenth-Century Mississippi River Gambling Stories (Louisiana State University Press, 2010); with Prof. Sarah Churchwell, Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers, from Charlotte Temple to The Kite Runner (Continuum, 2012); and with Ross Hair, Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music: America Changed Through Music (Ashgate / Routledge, 2016). 

He is the co-editor, with Rachael McLennan, of the journal Comparative American Studies

At present, he is working on a special issue of Comparative American Studies focussed on rivers, and a new book project about Walter Scott and the development of American Literature.

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.


Twitter: @thomasruyssmith

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