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Kevin M. Modestino, PHD (he/him/his)

Master Instructor

  • English, Master Instructors
  • College of Arts & Sciences


Dr. Kevin M. Modestino is a specialist in nineteenth-century American and African-American literature, with research interests in aesthetics, abolitionism, historiography, and the environmental humanities. He earned his B.A. in English from New York University in 2007 and his Ph.D. from Duke University in 2014.

Dr. Modestino is currently at work on his first monograph, under contract to be published by Edinburgh University Press.“The Aesthetics of History, Imperial Time, and Slave Revolution in Antebellum America,” seeks to critically reframe antebellum U.S. history writing as an aesthetic project responding to the hemispheric imperial political contexts of the Haitian Revolution, Central and South American emancipations, the U.S.-Mexican War, and southern dreams of Caribbean plantation zone expansion. An essay from this project, “William H. Prescott’s Imperial Aesthetic” was published in ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and his writing has previously appeared in Studies in American Naturalism, American Literature, NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction. Science-Fiction Film and Television and the collected edition, Apocalypse in American Literature and Culture from Cambridge University Press. His most recent essay, "Octavia Butler’s Parable Novels and Genealogies of African-American Environmental Literature,” was published in Resilience: A Journal of Environmental Humanities.

Dr. Modestino has collaborated with a number of European-based American Studies Initiatives, including the Bavarian American Academy and the Obama Institute for American Studies in Mainz. He was recently invited to deliver the keynote at a research network workshop "Voices and Agencies: America in the Atlantic 1600-1865" at Siegen Universitat, Germany held February 16-17 2023. 

At Howard, he teaches the Introduction to Humanities sequence and American Literary Foundations. 

He is a proud member of the Howard NTT Faculty Union with SEIU Local 500.


Providential Visions: The Aesthetics of History, Slave Revolution, and Imperial Time in Antebellum America (book manuscript in process)

“William H. Prescott’s Imperial Aesthetic,” ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Culture (Vol. 63, No. 4, 2017); 597-639.

“Running High on Feeling: Emotional Ecologies in Dreiser, Park, and Miéville,” Studies in American Naturalism (Vol. 8, No.1, Summer 2013); pp. 52-78

“Renewed History for a Renewed Earth” Apocalypse in American Literature and Culture, ed. John Hay, Cambridge UP 

“Octavia Butler’s Parables and the Genealogies of African American Environmental Literature,” Resilience (9.1, Winter 2021) 

“Delano’s Gaze: The Aesthetics of History and the Problem of Slavery” (in revision)

Education & Expertise



Duke University


New York University


Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Abolitionism, Aesthetic Theory, Historiography, Environmental Humanities



Introduction to Humanities I: Special Section on the Environmental Humanities

Introduction to Humanities II