Cynthia S. Hamilton is Professor Emerita in American Literature and Cultural History. She received an AB cum laude from Wheaton College, Massachusetts and a D.Phil. in American Studies from the University of Sussex. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has served on the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies and on the Board of the Collegium for African American Research, as Secretary. She is currently a General Editor for the FORECAAST Series, sponsored by CAAR and published by Liverpool University Press. She has been a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, and a Peterson Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society. She was recipient of the 1997 Arthur Miller Prize for an essay on Toni Morrison. Her work examines the dynamics of popular literary genres, including slave narrative, the temperance tale, the captivity narrative, the western, detective fiction, the gothic, and sentimental reform literature.
Western and Hard-boiled Detective Fiction in America, 1890-1940 (1987) helped to establish the complex interactive dynamics of conventional elements within formula literature, and the scope available within the formula for innovation by individual authors. Subsequent work has sought to extend our understanding of the dynamics of popular literary genres and to expose the ways in which racism is inscribed in and perpetuated by American popular culture. She contextualises genre literature in relation to cultural and intellectual history. Recent publications have included: ‘The Dairyman’s Daughter’ as Model Tract,” Book History (2011); "Hercules Subdued: The Visual Rhetoric of the Kneeling Slave," Slavery and Abolition (2012); and "Strange Birds: Rewriting The Maltese Falcon," Journal of American Studies (2013). Her book on Sara Paretsky: Detective Fiction as Trauma Literature (Manchester UP) was published in 2015.