“Swept Away: An Adventure Tale for Millennials” – Dr. Mary Helen Washington

Mary Helen Washington was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. From 1975, when she was appointed Director of Black Studies at the University of Detroit, she has studied, taught, and written about African American literature. In addition to the University of Detroit, she has taught at St. John College of Cleveland, Harvard Divinity School, Wellesley College, Mills College, the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and is currently Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Ph.D. from University of Detroit, 1976.

Her recent publications include The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s (Columbia University Press, 2014). With this book, Washington explores the impact of the Left, the Communist Party, and the U.S. government spying operations on African American literature and culture during the Cold War. Focused on six major African American writers and artists of the 1950s, this study shows how their Left affiliations enabled them to shape an aesthetic that maintained traditions of race radicalism and literary experimentation.