Erin Smith

Professor - Interdisciplinary Studies
Lecturer I - Arts & Humanities, School of
Tags: 19th & 20th - Century American Literatures & Cultures History of the Book Gender Studies

Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Literature and Womens Studies
Duke University - 1997
B.S. - Social Science
Michigan State University - 1991
B.A. - English
Michigan State University - 1991

Research Areas

Research Interests

I am a scholar of American popular literature and a historian of print culture.  My larger intellectual project is to write a literary history of America that looks a little less like the Social Register and a little more like the American reading public, situating more conventionally literary works and readers in a larger cultural field of printed materials and communities of readers.  My first book, Hard-Boiled:  Working-Class Readers and Pulp Magazines (Temple UP, 2000) was funded in part by a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and was nominated for an Anthony Award for the best nonfiction book published about mysteries.  It considers American hard-boiled detective fiction of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s and the mostly male, working-class readers who encountered it in pulp magazines and cheap paperbacks.  The project’s methodological innovation is to use a variety of unconventional sources--pulp magazine advertising, the memoirs of writers and publishers, Depression-era studies of adult reading habits, labor history--to reconstruct popular reading practices in the absence of records left by readers themselves.  I demonstrate how this fiction shaped working-class male readers into consumers by selling them what they wanted to hear—stories about embattled (white) artisan-heroes who resisted encroaching commodity culture and the consuming women who came with it.  I argue that these readers were active participants in the creation of a working-class variant of consumer culture, a culture most scholars see reflecting the needs of middle-class women who were consumers for their households.

I was on special faculty development assignment (SFDA) at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, NC for the academic year 2002-03 working on my second book project,What Would Jesus Read?:  Scenes of Religious Reading and Writing in Twentieth-Century America.  It examines selected best-selling religious books, the literary, religious, and commercial institutions that make them available to readers, and the communities of readers they help construct in twentieth-century America.  Bringing together scholarship on book history, consumer culture, and lived religion in America, it examines how religion and spirituality continue to shape what and how we read, even in this secular age.  Fellowships and summer stipends from the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Louisville Institute have funded the project.  Related essays have been published in American Literary History, Book History, andCanadian Review of American Studies


What Would Jesus Read?: Scenes of Religious Reading and Writing in 20th-Century America, book ms. under contract with University of North Carolina Press. forthcoming - Publication
Some Thoughts on Privilege, Oppression, and the World in the Classroom. Class and the College Classroom. Continuum, forthcoming 2013. Reprinted from Radical Teacher 68 (2003): 23-26. forthcoming - Publication
"Religion and Popular Print Culture." U.S. Popular Print Culture, 1860-1920. Vol.6. Oxford History of Popular Print Culture. Ed. Christine Bold. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. 277-92. 2012 - Publication
Pulp Sensations. Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction. Ed. David Glover and Scott McCracken. New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. 141-58. 2012 - Publication
*"Religion and Popular Print Culture." U.S. Popular Print Culture, 1860-1920. Ed. Christine Bold. New York: Oxford UP, forthcoming 2011. 2011 - Publication
Chair and commentator. "Rereading Queer Pulp: Commodities, Sexualities, and Social Change." American Studies Association Annual Meeting. San Antonio, TX, 19 Nov. 2010. 2010 - Publication
"Waging a Cold War of Words: Religious Self-Help Literature and the 'American Way.'" Cold War Cultures Conference. University of Texas. Austin, TX, 1 Oct. 2010. 2010 - Publication
Late Great Planet Earth: Popular Reading and Religious Identity in Twentieth-Century America. Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing Annual Meeting. Toronto, ON, 24 June 2009. 2009 - Publication
Rev. of Everything Was Better in America: Print Culture in the Great Depression by David Welky. Journal of American History 95.4 (Mar. 2009): 1213-14. 2009 - Publication
Religious Reading and Oppositional Identities: The Case of Late Great Planet Earth. American Studies Association Annual Meeting. Washington D.C., 6 Nov. 2009. 2009 - Publication


Associate Professor
University of Texas at Dallas [2003–Present]
Assistant Professor
University of Texas at Dallas [1997–2003]
Staff Assistant
Duke University [1996–1997]
Simone de Beauvoir Named Instructor
Duke University [1996–1997]
Duke University [1995–1996]
Adult Literacy Tutor
Duke University [1995–1996]
Teaching Assistant
Duke University [1994–1995]
Veteran Assistant
Duke University [1994–1995]
Duke University [1994–1995]
Duke University [1993–1994]


"Work/Family Decisions in Dual-Career Families."
1999–1999 3rd Annual North Texas United Nations Conference on the Status of Women. University of Texas at Dallas, 7 Nov. 1999.
"Mass-market Print Culture."
2006–2006 The Book in America: Economic Aspects of the Material Text lecture series. University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA, 3 Mar. 2006.
Reading The Maltese Falcon in 1930.
2008–2008 The Big Read, Irving Public Library. Irving, TX, 3 Oct. 2008.
"Both a woman and a complete professional: Women Detectives and Women Readers."
1996–1996 Duke University Friends of Womens Studies Regional Gathering. Charlotte, NC, 19 Oct. 1996.
2000–2000 Book signing. Barnes & Noble. Richardson, TX, 5 Aug. 2000.

Additional Information

Grants and Fellowships

Fellow, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC, 2002-03

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, summer 2002

Louisville Institute Summer Stipend, summer 2002

Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 1991-96

Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellowship, 1991

Alumni Distinguished Scholarship (full merit scholarship), Michigan State University, 1987-91

National Merit Scholarship, 1987-91


- National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC [2002–2003]
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend
- National Endowment for the Humanities [2002–2002]
Louisville Institute Summer Stipend
- Louisville Institute [2002–2002]
Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities
- Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities [1991–1996]