We are thrilled that our keynote presentation will be delivered by Kenton Rambsy, Assistant Professor of African American literature and digital humanities at the University of Texas at Arlington.Kenton Rambsy sitting on stairs

Why Data-Rich African American Stories Matter

Numerous African American creators have produced data rich stories, that is, narratives embedded with large quantities of information.  Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois. Ida B. Wells. Toni Morrison. Colson Whitehead. The list goes on and on of African American storytellers whose works contain a multitude of reference points. Those of us in African American Studies and literary studies, however, are only recently began actively engaging data management tools, mapping software, and other technical methods that can fully capture and illuminate and represent all these data-rich stories produced by black people. 

In this presentation, Dr. Rambsy will highlight the significance of data-rich African American storytelling by illuminating the more than 400 locations and 600 characters referenced Edward P. Jones’s short fiction. This project sheds light on the importance of applying data-driven research to the study of African American compositions.


Kenton Rambsy is an Assistant Professor of African American literature at the University of Texas at Arlington. His areas of research include 20th- and 21st-century African American short fiction, Hip Hop, and book history. He is a 2018 recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship and author of two digital books #TheJayZMixtape and Lost in the City: An Exploration of Edward P. Jones’s Short Fiction (2019). His ongoing Digital Humanities projects use datasets to illuminate the significance of recurring trends and thematic shifts as they relate to black writers and rappers. His forthcoming book, The Geographies of African American Short Stories (May 2022) illuminates an important, though often understudied, mode of literary art by interpreting writers’ depictions of characters navigating distinct social and physical environments.