MR Wilson


I work on twentieth-century American popular culture, with a special interest in literary reception, collective memory, community formation, and digital humanities. 

My dissertation unmasks a peculiar American institution: amateur minstrel shows ritually restaged for local charity. Titled Grassroots Minstrelsy, it defines, theorizes, and names this phenomenon, arguing that the quotidian nature of its neighborhood productions and the benevolent aura of its philanthropic fundraising has shielded it from critical attention. Grassroots Minstrelsy’s methodology merges archival research, close reading, thick description, and digital humanities. It features a digital project, Grassroots Minstrelsy in Bronzeville, for which I schematized and coded a relational database in MySQL using data scraped from digitized newspapers, historical sheet music, and US Census records. By digitally recuperating these silent twentieth-century archives, I explore the cultural afterlives of nineteenth-century blackface minstrelsy.

Teaching and Research Interests

African-American Literature

American Literature

Contemporary Literature and Culture

Digital Humanities

Drama and Performance Studies

Literature and Ethnicity

Selected Publications

Wilson, M. "Your Reputation Precedes You: A Reception Study of Naked Lunch." Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 35 no. 2, 2012, pp. 98-125. Project MUSE,