The Rich Earth between Us

The Intimate Grounds of Race and Sexuality in the Atlantic World, 1770–1840

By Shelby Johnson

The Rich Earth between Us

230 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 2 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7791-0
    Published: March 2024
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7790-3
    Published: March 2024

Paperback Available March 2024, but pre-order your copy today!

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In this theory-rich study, Shelby Johnson analyzes the works of Black and Indigenous writers in the Atlantic World, examining how their literary production informs “modes of being” that confronted violent colonial times. Johnson particularly assesses how these authors connected to places—whether real or imagined—and how those connections enabled them to make worlds in spite of the violence of slavery and settler colonialism. Johnson engages with works written in a period engulfed by the extraordinary political and social upheavals of the Age of Revolution and Indian Removal, and these texts—which include not only sermons, life writing, and periodicals but also descriptions of embodied and oral knowledge, as well as material objects—register defiance to land removal and other forms of violence.

In studying writers of color during this era, Johnson probes the histories of their lived environment and of the earth itself—its limits, its finite resources, and its metaphoric mortality—in a way that offers new insights on what it means to imagine sustainable connections to the ground on which we walk.

About the Author

Shelby Johnson is assistant professor of English at Oklahoma State University.

For more information about Shelby Johnson, visit the Author Page.


"This text joins a growing conversation on the solidarities between African diasporic and Indigenous communities of the Atlantic World. The creativity, care, and deep, multifield engagement that Johnson brings to her primary sources is a model for what scholarship on this period can be." —Greta LaFleur, Yale University

"Johnson moves fluidly through current scholarship and theoretical work to produce a deeply thoughtful and reorienting reading of the work of four prominent eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Black and Native writers. A powerful and original contribution that is very much at the heart of current conversations in the field."—Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Northeastern University