Cloud Lecturer

In 2004 Sara Cloud made a bequest to support a lecture series in the Department of English to honor the achievements and perpetuate the memory of Dr. Jess Cloud, accomplished poet, author, scholar, and former development officer and teacher in the College's Honors Program. Selected speakers are of national renown and may be outstanding scholars in the areas of Mr. Cloud’s achievements and scholarship: poetry, the Renaissance, and sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and twentieth-century literature.

Cloud Lecturers:

  • Valerie Smith2011, Valerie Smith, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, Princeton University, gave a lecture on the works of Toni Morrison entitled "Trouble in Paradise." Smith served as the founding director (2006 -09) of UVA's Center for African American Studies. She is a specialist in African-American literature and culture, with specific interests in black feminist theory and film studies. She received a Guggenheim Felllowship in 2005-06 and an Alphonse G. Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship in 2006-07. At present, she is completing a book on the Civil Rights Movement in cultural memory.

  • Geoffrey Harpham2010, Geoffrey Harpham, president and director of the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Among his many books are On the Grotesque: Strategies of Contradiction in Art and Literature (1982); Shadows of Ethics: Criticism and the Just Society (1999); and Language Alone: The Critical Fetish of Modernity(2002). His longstanding scholarly interests include the role of ethics in literary study, the place of language in intellectual history, and the work of Joseph Conrad. He has collaborated with M. H. Abrams on A Glossary of Literary Terms, now in its tenth edition. In recent years, he has become a prominent historian of and advocate for the humanities; The Humanities and the Dream of America appeared in 2011. He has received fellowships from the J. S. Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Under his leadership, the National Humanities Center has sponsored initiatives that have encouraged dialogue between the humanities and the natural and social sciences. (photo and biography courtesy of the National Humanities Center)
  • Jahan Ramazani2010, Jahan RamanzaniEdgar F. Shannon Professor 
in the English Department at the University of Virginia, presented an April lecture entitled, “Amid Other Genres: The Poetry of Postcolonial Poetry.”  Ramazani specializes in modern and contemporary poetry, and postcolonial literature. His published book include  A Transnational Poetics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); The Twentieth Century and After in The Norton Anthology of English Literature (with Jon Stallworthy, Norton, 2006); The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, 2 vols. (with late editors Richard Ellmann and Robert O'Clair, Norton, 2003); The Hybrid Muse: Postcolonial Poetry in English (University of Chicago Press, 2001);  Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney (University of Chicago Press, 1994); and Yeats and the Poetry of Death: Elegy, Self-Elegy, and the Sublime (Yale University Press, 1990).
  • Leah Price2009. Harvard Professor of English Leah Price gave a talk entitled, "From the History of the Book to the 'History of the Book.'" Professor Price interrogated the overlap between recent scholarship on the history of the book and the long tradition of fiction that raises questions about the act of reading.  While scholars often discuss the common interests of human agents, Leah Price explores the nature of circulation in both of these scholarly trajectories. As analytical bibliographers have long emphasized, books accrue meaning not  just through their manufacture, but through their subsequent uses:  bought, sold, exchanged, transported, defaced, mended, sorted, catalogued, ignored, collected, neglected, discarded, recycled.  Professor Price examined book circulation in a variety of narratives, including fictional autobiographies and such histories as the "Adventures of the Bible,"  in which a thing traces its travels among a series of richer and poorer owners.


  • 2008. University of Michigan Professor Marjorie Levinson is the author of The Romantic Fragment Poem: Critique of a Form (UNC Press, 1986), Wordsworth’s Great Period Poems (Cambridge, 1986), Keats’s Life of Allegory: Origins of a Style (Blackwell, 1988), and Rethinking Historicism (editor and contributor, Blackwell, 1989).


  • womack2008. Emory University Professor of English Craig Womack is the author of Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism and the novel Drowning in Fire. He teaches courses on Native American Literature, Muscogee literature, and gay and lesbian literature. His lecture formed part of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature's meeting in Williamsburg.


  • rampersad2007. Arnold Rampersad is the Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities and the Cognizant Dean for the Humanities at Stanford University. He is also one of the country's leading experts on African American literature and culture. In addition to editing the work of Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, he has published biographies of Hughes, W. E. B. DuBois, and Jackie Robinson. His book Ralph Ellison: A Biography was published by Knopf in 2007.


  • perloff2006. Marjorie Perloff, the first Cloud Lecturer, has been for 30 years a leading critic and scholar in the field of 20th-century literature. She has taught at Stanford and the University of Southern California and was the president of the Modern Language Association in 2006.