Catherine E. Saunders

Catherine E. Saunders

Catherine E. Saunders


Composition: 19th-century American literature, with particular focus on works by women and African-Americans and the novel; American antislavery literature; local history; digital humanities; open educational resources; writing in and about the disciplines.

Catherine E. (Cathy) Saunders teaches introductory and advanced composition and literature in face to face, hybrid, and online formats.  Her research interests include 19th-century American literature, with particular focus on works by women and African-Americans; the American antislavery movement; the novel; digital humanities; and Open Educational Resources.  Her current research projects include the life and work of Emily Clemens Pearson, a little-known antislavery novelist; Harriet Jacobs' writings from Civil War Alexandria; and the role of enslavers and enslaved people in the founding of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia (to which she belongs).

She has recently served on the Term Faculty Advisory Committee and Workload Working Group of the CHSS Faculty Assembly.  

Selected Publications

"The Silencing of Contingent Faculty Voices in Secret Presidential Searches." With Virginia Hoy and Deborah M. Sánchez.  Academe Blog.  23 April 2020. 

“Louisa Jacobs and African American Women’s Mutual Support in the Post-Reconstruction Era.” Review of Mary Maillard, ed., Whispers of Cruel Wrongs: The Correspondence of Louisa Jacobs and Her Circle, 1879-1911.  Resources for American Literary Study Vol 40, 2018.

Poetic Representations of African-American Soldiers.”  Teaching the Literatures of the American Civil War, ed. Colleen Glenney Boggs.  New York: MLA, 2016. 

“Emily Clemens Pearson.”  Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 29.2 (Summer 2012): 300-317 (profile and reprint of Pearson’s sketch “Old Delia”).


Expanded Publication List

Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “Ramona,” “Declaration of Sentiments,” “American Slavery As It Is,” “Sojourner Truth’s Speech at the Woman’s Rights Convention at Akron, Ohio,” “The Negro Declaration of Independence,” “Army Life in a Black Regiment,” “Letter to the Rev. Samson Occom,” “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” and “The History of Mary Prince.” Entries for The Literature of Propaganda, The Manifesto in Literature, and The Literature of Autobiography, St. James (Gale/Cengage), 2013. 

“Marilynne Robinson’s Home.”  Invited review for Reformed Institute of Metropolitan Washington website, with accompanying study guide,, 2008. 

“Lydia Maria Child.” Major Author Entry and Student Guide.  Encyclopedia of American Literature.  New York: Facts on File, 2007.

“Mulatto.” Writing African American Women: An Encyclopedia of Literature by and About Women of Color, ed. Elizabeth Ann Beaulieu.  Westport:Greenwood Press, 2006.

"Makers or Bearers of Meaning?  Sex and the Struggle for Self-Definition in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man." Critical Matrix, Fall/Winter 1989: 1-28. 

Writing the Margins: Edith Wharton, Ellen Glasgow, and the Literary Tradition of the Ruined Woman.  Harvard University Press, LeBaron Russell Briggs Prize series, 1987.  73 pp. 


Grants and Fellowships

GMU Center for Humanities Research funding for research into the role of slavery and enslaved people in the early history of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, summer 2022.  

GMU Term Faculty Development Fund Grants: for research/curricular development for "Virginia Stories: Settlement to Nat Turner" (2019-2020), for developing the English 302 OER collection (2016), and for incorporating Omeka into an introductory literature class (2014).  

Mason 4-VA OER grants to support development of the English 302 OER Collection, 2018 and 2016/2017.

Mellon Research Fellowship, Virginia Historical Society, 1 week, 2011-2012.

Courses Taught

ENGH 101: Composition
ENGH 201: Reading & Writing About Texts
ENGH 202: Texts & Contexts: Virginia Stories: Nat Turner & Others Who Resisted Slavery; Virginia Stories: Settlement to Nat Turner; Remembering the American Civil War; American Women's Bestsellers: Digital Humanities Perspectives
ENGH 302H: Advanced Composition (Humanities)
ENGH 302M: Advanced Composition (Multidisciplinary)
ENGH 302N: Advanced Composition (Natural Sciences & Technology)
ENGH 302S: Advanced Composition (Social Sciences)
ENGH 341: Literature of the American Renaissance
ENGH 348: Beginnings of African American Literature Through 1865


Ph.D, M.A., English, Princeton University
A.B., English, Harvard University

Recent Presentations

“Teaching Writing Through Linguistic Justice Frameworks,” with Courtney Adams Wooten, Christina Grieco, Katherine Miscavige, and Leslie Goetsch. Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference, Fairfax, Oct. 2023, and "Language and Interaction Guidelines for Discussing Race Online." On-demand presentation for Innovations in Teaching and Learning, GMU, September 2022, available at .

“Church at the Crossroads; Church as Crossroads: Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in the Civil War Era.” Virginia Forum, Shepherdstown, WV, March 2023.  

“Teaching Civil War Literature and Monuments in 2018.”  Participant in Syllabus/Assignment Exchange for Social Justice Pedagogy, Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference, Denver, Nov. 2018.

"Facilitating Faculty Collaboration Through the Creation of an Online OER Collection" and "Collaboration and Developing Open Educational Resources for Your Courses ." Innovations in Teaching and Learning, Fairfax, Sept. 2017 and Sept. 2018.

Presented my approach to using Omeka-based projects in English 202 as part of roundtable, "Teaching American Women Writers with Digital Tools, Platforms, and Projects ," Society for the Study of American Women Writers conference, Philadelphia, November 2015.         

In the Media

“Emily Clemens Pearson: A Granby Abolitionist.”  Invited talk at Lost Acres Orchard, Granby CT (childhood home of Emily Clemens Pearson), July 2012. Covered by Granby-East Granby Patch, July 30, 2012