Erin Smith
Title Professor
Education PhD, Literature and Women’s Studies, Duke University
Area of Interest 19th- and 20th-century American Literatures and Cultures, History of the Book, Gender Studies
Contact HH 2.304 | 972-883-2338 [email protected]


Erin A. Smith is Professor of American Studies. She has taught courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literatures and cultures and Gender Studies at UT-Dallas since 1997. Her graduate teaching is in the School of Arts & Humanities. She has taught for the Collegium V Honors Program since 2003. She writes about American popular literature.

Research Interests

Smith is a scholar of American popular literature and a historian of print culture. Her larger intellectual project is to write a more representative American literary history, situating more conventionally literary works in a larger cultural field of books and readers. Her latest book, What Would Jesus Read?: Popular Religious Books and Everyday Life in Twentieth-Century America (2015) is a study of best-selling religious books and their readers in the twentieth-century U.S. It is located at the intersection of three fields of scholarship–history of the book, lived religion, and consumer culture. Fellowships and summer stipends from the National Humanities Center, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Louisville Institute funded the project. Related work has been published in American Literary History, Book History, Canadian Review of American Studies, and an edited collection, Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America (2008). Her first book, Hard-Boiled: Working-Class Readers and Pulp Magazines (2000) was funded in part by a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and was nominated for an Anthony Award for the best nonfiction book published about mysteries. It considers American hard-boiled detective fiction of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s and the mostly male, working-class readers who encountered it in pulp magazines and cheap paperbacks. The project’s methodological innovation is to use a variety of unconventional sources—pulp magazine advertising, the memoirs of writers and publishers, Depression-era studies of adult reading habits, labor history—to reconstruct popular reading practices in the absence of records left by readers themselves.

Offered Courses

AMS 2300 American Popular Culture
AMS 2341 American Studies for the 21st Century
GST 2300 Introduction to Gender Studies
HUSL 6360 American Literature Post – 1945
HUSL 6372 American Ethnic Literature
HUSL 6372 American Popular Literature
HUSL 6372 American Women Writers
HUSL 7372 American Cultural Studies

Selected Publications

Dangerously Good Women: The Female Criminal in Bunny Lake Is Missing (1957) and Contemporary Domestic Noir. Clues: A Journal of Detection 39.1 (spring 2021): 86-98.

What Would Jesus Read?: Popular Religious Books and Everyday Life in Twentieth-Century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

“Class Privilege, Oppression, and the World in the Classroom.” Class and the College Classroom: Essays on Teaching. Ed. Robert C. Rosen. Bloomsbury, 2013. 109-16. Reprinted from Radical Teacher 68 (2003): 23-26.

“Pulp Sensations.” Cambridge Companion to Popular Fiction. Ed. David Glover and Scott McCracken. New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. 141-58.

“Religion and Popular Print Culture.” U.S. Popular Print Culture, 1860-1920. Vol.6. Oxford History of Popular Print Culture. Ed. Christine Bold. New York: Oxford UP, 2012. 277-92.

Hard-Boiled: Working-Class Readers and Pulp Magazines. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.