Jennifer Tuttle awarded Sisters in Crime Academic Research Grant

Jennifer Tuttle
Jennifer Tuttle, Ph.D., Dorothy M. Healy Professor of Literature and Health at UNE.

Jennifer Tuttle, Ph.D., Dorothy M. Healy Professor of Literature and Health in the University of New England School of Arts and Humanities and 2021-2022 Ludcke Chair of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was recently awarded a Sisters in Crime Academic Research Grant.

The grant is given annually to support research projects on the role of women or underrepresented groups in the crime fiction genre. Tuttle received the grant for one of her sabbatical projects currently underway, entitled “Crime on the Color Line: Recovering the Lost Writing of Dora L. Mitchell.” 

Tuttle's project focuses on the crime writing of Dora L. Mitchell (1891-1970) of Los Angeles.

Until now, Mitchell has been entirely invisible in the historical record, a circumstance Tuttle says results from both her status as a Black woman of modest means and the fact that she published in two exceedingly ephemeral venues — the Black newspaper and the pulp magazine. Mitchell’s writing and nearly all traces of her life have quite literally crumbled into dust, but Tuttle has spent the past year squinting at reels of old microfilm, digitally searching archives on three continents, importuning scores of archivists, visiting myriad California repositories and government agencies, and scouring the obscure corners of the internet to locate a portion of Mitchell’s work (some of it barely legible) and reconstruct the details of her fascinating life. 

Through this project of historical recovery, Tuttle hopes to illuminate Black women’s contribution to crime writing; clarify the early literary history of Black California, in which women receive egregiously scant representation; diversify our understanding of Western women’s writing from the period, where Black women’s literary output is only beginning to be recovered by scholars; and deepen literary criticism on the interwar period, regarded as the golden age of not only pulp fiction but also the Harlem Renaissance and mainstream literary modernism.

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