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Martin Summers

associate professor

Photo of Martin Summers

Telephone: 617-552-3814

Office Location: Stokes Hall, Room S343


Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1997

Fields of Interest

African-American intellectual and cultural history; gender and masculinity; race and sexuality; race and mental Illness; African diaspora

Academic Profile

Martin Summers is a cultural historian of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S., with particular research and teaching interests in race, gender, sexuality, and medicine. He regularly teaches courses on post-1865 U.S. history, gender, and sexuality in African-American history; health and disease in African-American history; and the history of masculinity in the U.S.

Summers’ current research project is a social and cultural history of medicine that focuses on African-American patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital, a federal mental institution in Washington, DC. The project uses the hospital as a case study in which to explore the intersections of the historical process of racial formation, medical and cultural understandings of insanity, and the exercise of institutional power. Summers’ research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. In 2013-2014, he will be a fellow at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina.

Representative Publications

  • “Arguing for Our Race”: The Politics of Non-recognition and the Public Nature of the Black Masonic Archive,” in Steven Kantrowitz and Peter Hinks, eds., “All Men Are Free and Are Brethren”: Prince Hall Fraternalism and the Rise of a People (Cornell University Press, 2013)
  • "'Suitable Care for the African When Afflicted With Insanity': Race, Madness, and Social Order in Comparative Perspective," in Bulletin of the History of Medicine 84 (Spring 2010): 58-91.
  • Manliness and Its Discontents: The Black Middle Class and the Transformation of Masculinity, 1900-1930 (UNC Press, 2004) — Recipient of 2005 American Historical Association-Pacific Coast Branch Book Award
  • "Diasporic Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transnational Production of Black Middle-Class Masculinity," Gender and History 15 (November 2003): 550-74
  • “’This Immoral Practice’: The Prehistory of Homophobia in Black Nationalist Thought,” in Toni Lester, ed., Gender Nonconformity, Race and Sexuality: Charting the Connections (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003)