Associate Professor of History
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 US and African American history; gender and sexuality in African-
American history; and medicine and public health in the African diaspora.
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, the
exercise of institutional power, and individual and collective agency. Summers’ research has
been supported by the Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the National Humanities Center.